For as mismatched as this year’s Reading and Leeds lineup is (seriously, some of these slots are genuinely bizarre), it says a lot when easily one of the most unexpected comes from Trash Boat on the Main Stage. Because really, did anyone expect that? They may have had some hype around the release of their debut (then again, which UK pop-punk band didn’t?), but Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through wasn’t all that great, putting Trash Boat as a mid-tier act at best, and nothing that wouldn’t get immediately outshined by any other the bands they were blatantly drawing from. But, just from that one booking, it says a lot about where Trash Boat are in 2018 than many would expect, that there’s a lot of faith in them to pull out something considerable, and that Crown Shyness will be the album to do it for them.

 It wouldn’t be too unquestionable to go into this album with a bit of skepticism if that’s the case, especially since Trash Boat themselves have rarely offered much in the way to convince this might be the case. But credit where it’s due – and there’s a lot to be given in this case – Crown Shyness is a genuinely great album, not only seeing Trash Boat settle on an identity that works for them, but also moving away from pop-punk almost entirely, now dialing up the hardcore influences that’s seem them get the most praise, as well as Wonder Years-esque alt-rock that makes this melancholy-drenched sound so much more secure in its intent.

 That circles back around to vocalist Tobi Duncan’s mental health, and the candour and catharsis he displays when putting himself front and centre in the firing line of those who continue to stigmatise depression and deny any continuing effects in adulthood. It’s genuinely affecting too, be that in the slow burn into searing roars of pain on Old Soul, or the openness and vulnerability of the title track, ripping down any walls for an acoustic track that actually feels earned and lived-in. Any and all emotion feels so powerful and resonant, driving a vocal delivery that’s unafraid to break into raw, ragged screams like on Silence where it feels so natural.

 Then, alongside an instrumental palette that carries an equal amount of weight, the synthesis is just excellent. For starters, the fact that this is ostensibly a pop-punk album that’s actually pushing on its harder edges in 2018 rather than the other way around is so welcome, and it gives the likes of Shade or Controlled Burn a sense of gusto that the genre is severely being starved of. That’s not even mentioning how successfully Trash Boat’s forays into hardcore seem to be going; this could easily be an out-and-out hardcore album with just a bit more push, given how excellent the crunch and the increased tempos are ridden and commanded. And yes, the double-time drums could have easily been left in 2014 for an even better result, but that’s the smallest of faults for a band that’s undergone enormous improvements in pretty much every other area.

 It truly is a shock that Trash Boat have taken a leap forward as colossal as this in such a short time, but with how handsomely it’s paid off, there’s nothing to complain about. This is about the best place they could have ended up, a smooth, immediate fusion of their influences that had always felt so derivative, but now are working in tandem to the best of their abilities. Crown Shyness represents an absolute triumph for Trash Boat, one that could never have been predicted and fully justifies the huge slots they’ve worked up to. Find work indeed.

8/10

For fans of: Trophy Eyes, The Wonder Years, Boston Manor
Words by Luke Nuttall 

‘Crown Shyness’ by Trash Boat is released on 20th July on Hopeless Records.

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