When I first heard about this band, I was angry. Angry that this band had existed all this time and no one had ever told me about them. This is how I found them: I pulled up a list of post punk bands from Wikipedia and just made my way down the list. If I didn’t know the band, I’d look them up on YouTube. Luckily, these English fellows were near the top so it didn’t take long for me to discover them.
And Also the Trees are a stunning blend of sound, comparable to The Cure, Joy Division, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, yet retaining a mood all their own. They sound like the ghosts of the past come back to haunt you through your stereo, infecting your brain with a sickness divine.
Formed in 1979 (the same year Joy Division’s sophomore album Unknown Pleasures was released) in Worcestershire, the band was comprised of two pairs of brothers; Simon Huw Jones (vocals), Justin Jones (guitar), Nick Havas (drums), and Graham Havas (bass). They started very much from nothing, having no prior musical experience, requiring them to teach themselves to play their instruments. After a few rough recordings, they caught the attention of Robert Smith of The Cure, who brought them on tour. The Cure’s drummer, Lol Tolhurst, later produced their self-titled album.
The band became popular in Europe, but never broke into the USA. It’s a shame, because I feel they should be held in the same esteem as other legendary post-punk artists. The band is still active to this day, though the Havas brothers have dropped out. Their latest release as of this writing is 2016’s Born into the Waves.
Their song “So This is Silence” has strong similarities to The Cure’s Pornography album, with it’s oppressively dark ethos of loneliness and despair, as if something horrible has happened and all the singer can do is wail in agony into the abyss. “Maps in Her Wrists and Arms” conjures the image of a frail dope fiend, like Mary Tyrone wandering through her house in a haze at night. “Slow Pulse Boy” tells the tale of a PTSD-ridden soldier remembering the tragedy of the lives lost in war.
And Also the Trees have a deeply evocative and haunting sound. Within their songs you can find phantasmal murderers lurking out of the fog to stalk the London streets, the ghost of a long-lost lover now only remembered in images, and scenes of horror and violence driving one into shrieking madness.
Out of their discography, I would most recommend the album Virus Meadow, which remains my favorite of theirs. Every track is a solid example of the band at their best, starting off with the ominous “Slow Pulse Boy” and closing out with the eerie, haunting imagery of “The Headless Clay Woman.” This album should have been one of the great post-punk albums, up there with Disintegration and Closer. It holds you in a mystical state of both terror and wonder, waiting for the next note, the next revelation.
If you fancy yourself an avid, deep-cut music aficionado, this is a band you need to discover. It’s an experience quite unlike any other, that transports you into a world of its own.