Jack Jones and Trampolene have been on a near decade long voyage to reach the release of Love No Less Than A Queen. The early years of the Welsh alternative rock trio involved decamping to London from Swansea, a barrage of EP releases careening from pure spoken word to blues rock and delicate acoustic serenades, several UK tours and Jack’s stint as the Libertines tour poet-in-residence and guitarist in Peter Doherty’s The Puta Madres, before the eventual creation of their current line-up and becoming the first band signed to Doherty’s Strap Originals label.
Love No Less Than A Queen is a culmination of this near decade of activity and a culmination of the music they have released until now. The album paints pictures of fighting through challenges, battling enemies within and without, then finding some kind of contentedness. ‘Gotta Do More Gotta Be More’ launches the record with a statement of intent, a driving industrial rhythm asserting this era of the group as bolder and more ginormous than all that’s come before. Leaping into ‘Oh Lover’ which immediately fulfils the opening promise, their most obvious crowd igniting anthem yet, dirty guitars and a passionate croon to a sweetheart.
The title of ‘The Misadventures Of Lord Billy Bilo’ hints at the track being some kind of tribute to Pete Doherty, the song itself – a drug induced, schizophrenic, hallucinating crack-up over a stoned Sonic Youth backing. ‘No Love No Kisses’ is uplifting playground lament, half sonnet, half singalong. ‘Remember’, the album and career highpoint for Trampolene so far, an encouraging and rousing paean, asking the listener to, “in these darkest days, in the hardest maze” remember and find a way out of whatever morass they find themself in (well that’s my interpretation anyway).
‘Uncle Brian’s Abattoir’, featuring Doherty on the chorus, the first single from the album recorded and released in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown, is a tinkling collage of barmy but enlivening imagery, the abattoir referred to sounding more like rehab than slaughterhouse, containing a message of redemption we all needed to hear in 2020. ‘Shoot The Lights’ is a danceable, sleaze smothered, Cure inspired hit.
‘Lighter Than Paper’ brings the pace down a melodic tone or two, the first of the crystalline calm love songs on the record’s second half, a style of song that Trampolene pull off with remarkable ease next to the muddy blues rock of Shoot The Lights. The chorus of ‘Perfect View’ moves further on up again to a synth boosted, feelgood horizon. ‘Born Again’ could be The Stone Roses, a declaration of a total new start with a breakdown sermonizing the benefit of losing control and letting fate be your master before the scuzz guitar starts up again.
‘Milan’ is a gentle, regretful, plead after a wake-up call to a lover who’s sliding away, soft as a summer weekend morning.
‘Come Join Me In Life’, then, is the record’s summit. If Trampolene are typified by anything it’s Jack Jones’s poetry and this poem is a working-class lament, demanding “burning ambition”, striving to beat the bastards who’ll keep you down and to “be a rebel with a reason, don’t dare be realistic” over soundbites of a train buffet car announcement and ending in a riot. With a riot being a perfectly fitting ending for this, Trampolene’s bright new dawn.