If you’re a completist, go ahead and pick this up.
Tsunami Bomb is back! This is fantastic news for its fans and for SoCal pop punk fans in general. It’s also good news for anyone who digs fast beats and infectious vocal melodies from a female perspective. Not only that, we’ve got a brand new release on our hands. Good news all around, right?
Here’s the thing: Tsunami Bomb has reformed, but without Emily Whitehurst, aka Agent M—the voice that defined it. While recruiting Kate Jacobi to take Whitehurst’s place, she isn’t present on Trust No One because it’s a rarities compilation.
It’s curious that Tsunami Bomb and Kung Fu Records would try to whip people up into a frenzy about a reunited fan-favorite band without offering anything from the current iteration. It’s even more curious that Trust No One has rare tracks from out-of-print releases that most people interested in the band 15 years ago have probably already pulled off the internet.
Not only that, but the first eight tracks are from the band’s earliest releases, before they found their sound, their purpose or their direction. In other words, before they were worth listening to. These tracks are barely remixed (see “Lemonade (1999)”), tinny (see “Mushy Love Song”), juvenile (see “Irish Boys”) and, above all, a poor indicator of what the band became later on—what their future material will more than likely sound like.
Trust No One’s not all bad. Included in the release are the tunes from The Invasion from Within!, the EP that got people to take notice. Replete with Agent M’s tremendous melodies and the use of an organ that gave their fairly standard pop punk stylings a bit of a horror punk vibe, these are the songs on Trust No One that are worth their proverbial salt.
“No One’s Looking,” for instance, shows a level of control over songwriting skills that would inform its later releases. They’ve got that punk pace down pat, and the chord progression in the pre-chorus is pretty enough to choke up any listener if it weren’t for its abbreviated appearances throughout the track. “No Good Very Bad Day” ramps up the speed and the fun as Agent M describes the things that have wrecked her day. Granted, these complaints reek of white privilege as the most pressing issues include “I broke my new computer/ And nobody calls me on the phone,” but still, this is a song to run around in a circle to. And don’t forget to stick around for “Marionette” and “…Not Forever.” Both are massive winners on Trust No One just as they were on their original release in 2001.
The real shame of Trust No One is that it besmirches the excitement of a beloved band’s return. This isn’t a primer for what’s to come as much as it is reminder that all bands, even good bands, were fairly dreadful at their start. It’s doubtful that Tsunami Bomb is playing the early tracks from this release on their tour. It’s doubtful that most Tsunami Bomb fans haven’t heard these songs before and then purged their hard drives of them. It’s doubtful that new fans will get roped in with this stuff. And it’s doubtful that this new iteration of Tsunami Bomb will benefit from this release much beyond some gas money to get them to their next show. The only real takeaway here is that The Invasion from Within! could have new life imbued into it. But it’s unfortunately buried under eight tracks of the band’s primordial ooze.
If you’re a completist, go ahead and pick this up. You’ll get the necessary jollies. But let’s be honest, if you want to hear The Invasion from Within!, or get yourself pumped for Tsunami Bomb’s return, you’re better off scouring Amazon, eBay or iTunes for their music instead of subjecting yourself to the front half of this collection.