REVIEW: Trust Fund - We have always lived in The Harolds

Kelly Kirwan

For the most part, Ellis Jones’ voice is gentle and high—a pitch that seems to emanate from the crown of his head rather than his diaphragm. It fits with the aesthetic of his latest LP, We have always lived in The Harolds, an intimate array of bedroom-daydream pop whose lyrics read like unfiltered feelings—emotionally raw, blunt, and of course, relatable. His words play like an inner monologue funneled to the airwaves, and by a stroke of luck we’ve set our dial to his private station.

The LP is the newest addition to Trust Fund’s discography, the Bristol indie-pop group of which Jones has been a core and constant member. The album release was a surprise, in the sense that Jones didn’t feed his fans a few teaser tracks before presenting the record in full. Jones apparently didn’t feel like playing the game, and was at a point in his career where he didn’t need to play it. It was a move that wasn’t meant to be strategic—rather, artistic—but it worked to Trust Fund’s advantage all the same. It Takes Time Records picked it up for a US release, which brings us to the here and now.

We have always lived in The Harolds was actually recorded in Leeds, a city-switch that plays prominently into Jones’ mood and inspiration. For anyone who has changed up their scenery, it’s easy to remember the initial difficulty that follows—a sense of foreign isolation that inevitably takes root, no matter the distance between where you’ve ended up and the home you knew before. The album tackles these feelings in a way that’s poetic without being too polished. For instance, "Would that be an adventure?" feels splintered between two songs and sonic structures: a foggy intro, somber speak-singing, synths evocative of pipe organ keys, which quickly flow into a falsetto chorus and sweeping cello accompaniment. It's the sort of orchestra backing that creates a swell in your chest, a much sunnier path than the song’s other half. "I saw your ugly side much sooner than you realized," Jones reveals in his somber moments, later posing brightly, “If you left without me / Would that be an adventure?”

Then there’s "Crab Line," an uptempo pop-rock number that thrives on drum rolls, guitar solos, and draws to a slow, sauntering conclusion. It’s a song that’s evocative of playing hooky from responsibilities in general, with Jones singing, "Me and my baby that’s all we want / All we want is to not exist," in a way that evokes images old essays flying into the air before summer vacation (as opposed to a more morbid alternative). "Crab Line" feels like a dream of sunshine during bitter winter months, but luckily it's drenched in enough catchy riffs to make you forget the surrounding chill.

We have always lived in The Harolds is not the downer Jones may have you believe it to be. It’s a tangle, of feeling uncertain or wanting to say fuck it, but it’s above all a piece of very personal art laid all out on the table—the sort of knot you can't help but try to pull apart.