It was quite surprising to me that Thursday marked the Los Angeles debut of Montreal indie pop outfit Men I Trust. But it was quite apparent when you saw the band’s constant smiles as they rocked a sold-out Echoplex.
I’ve been in love with this band since stumbling into their song “Tailwhip” on a Spotify Discover Weekly playlist many months ago. It reminded me of Zero 7’s excellent Garden State featured track “In The Waiting Line” with a still burgeoning Sia on lead vocals.
Men I Trust singer Emmanuelle Proulx certainly calls to mind Sia’s deeper, raspy vocals, and it’s interesting to note that she originally wasn’t a permanent member of the group. They dropped an independent record Headroom in 2015 that featured Proulx as a guest vocalist on a handful of tracks — and more often than not those were the favorites of listeners. At a certain point, Jessy Caron and Drago Chiriac must have realized they were better with Proulx as the the band’s voice, and their first tour to the west coast proves they weren’t mistaken.
“Break For Lovers” is one of the songs from that 2015 record that Proulx didn’t sing on but instead fellow Montreal singer Helena Deland (I saw the two share a bill at SXSW this year), but it happened to open the show. Proulx’s vocals fit the vibe just as perfectly, if not more so. The synths have a Jamiroquai-at-50-percent-speed feel to them, like many of the songs in their repertoire.
The band then jumped into “Tailwhip”, and I quickly found it wasn’t just my favorite. A girl to my left danced and sang along enthusiastically, and I looked around and saw lots of people grooving along. Proulx made a comment that her T-shirt was purchased for $1.50 at a gas station or something.
Grooving is exactly what Men I Trust knows how to do on every song. You can feel the bass lines deep in your soul, contrasted wonderfully by Proulx’s rasp. Another favorite of mine is “Lauren”, a song that seems to be about knowing you have to leave a place you have lots of ties to. “Cause I can’t stay forever, ahhh,” Proulx chants catchily.
A lot of their catalog reminds me of the slower-tempo parts of French art rock legends Air’s catalog. The soundscapes have so much depth, they wash right over you. I was plenty stoned by the time I got to the venue, and this band certainly pairs well with the relaxed feeling I had going in. It somehow chilled me out even more.
Every time I caught a glimpse of Proulx’s face, she had a huge smile on her face — even while singing heartbreaking lyrics. The same goes for Caron and Chiriac, perhaps only then they had the power to reach audiences well outside of their Montreal hometown. A sold-out debut at the Echoplex is nothing to sneeze at, and they made a lasting impression on me. By the sound of constant positive reinforcement, I wasn’t the only one.
Fellow Montreal dream pop band Anemone opened up the show and is accompanying Men I Trust on their tour — and we got some good photos of them as well! Their sound is a bit more psych-dance pop as they incorporate the sounds of baroque pop as well. Vocalist Chloe Soldevila has a beautiful voice.