Album: Armlock – Trust review

by Craig Howieson

The debut release from Australia’s Armlock is a candid confrontation of our deepest anxieties – pared against a beautifully reassuring backdrop of a sun starting to rise

Slowcore, sadcore, pillowcore… these introspective genres often exist as a means to replicate the meditative state between sleep and wakefulness. The equivalent to basking on the quivering lines on the horizon, where you don’t have to try and find meaning, it envelops you. And you linger there in a reassuring ether, not having full control of your thoughts as they sharpen and then blur as you are drawn back to slumber.

It is this safe, reassuring space that Australian duo, Simon Lam and Hamish Mitchell, who make up Armlock occupy on their debut release, Trust. A concise, yet considered set of seven tracks that not only displays the duo’s ability to find beauty in the faintest of heartbeats, but how the heart on sleeves ethos of early ‘aughts emo is etched onto their skin. It is this meddling of styles that elevates this release from slow burners to intricately packed world worn songs of disorientating disillusionment. 

The gentle nuance of their sound does not, however, mean that they lack impact. On Turf War, the sleepless guitar line draws you ever inwards as the words ‘Turf war / Knives drawn / We’ve just existed for so long,’ are murmured as a sobering realisation of why we struggle to move. The gauzy strum of Tabs is straddled by a heart wrenching banjo line as the duo try to make sense and take stock of the lives they have lived so far. ‘Wish that I kept tabs on all of the things / That I wanted to have by now.’ It is easy to measure our lives and find ourselves coming up short. On Trust, Armlock might be exposing raw awakenings, but, in doing so, have created a record it is inherently comforting.

Tinkering with and then layering exquisite sounds to create tracks that will soothe torn souls, the duo interrogate the bigger questions – looking for sense, purpose and connections that matter. The fact the backdrop to these questions is quite so stunning is testament to the skill of their songwriting. In fact, Trust is so good, you’ll feel like you dreamt it.

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