A hard-beating heart-bleed of a song, Sincere Engineer’s “Trust Me” continues the multi-decade honesty streak for Midwest pop punk bands.
Stream: “Trust Me” – Sincere Engineer
One of the most honest strains of pop punk arose in the American Midwest in the late nineties and early aughts. On the heels of emo’s second wave, bands like The Lawrence Arms and Off With Their Heads stripped away much of the juvenility and melodrama that gave pop punk its mainstream appeal. They blended the attack of melodic-hardcore with early emo’s lyrical introspection to create a style that could be respected by punks of any generation. The Chicago-based band Sincere Engineer follow in this tradition with “Trust Me,” the band’s first single to be released by Hopeless Records (Sum 41, All Time Low, et al.).
This is my grand introduction:
I’m lying face down in the street
For the second time this week.
And all of my plans failed.
All the things I promised you,
I’ll never get around to.
From the opening barrage of snare hits to the last note’s sweetly sung oohs, “Trust Me” encapsulates the dichotomous rage and melancholy that have ailed generations of suburban punks. The song finds lead singer Deanna Belos raging against, well, herself. She does this with maturity, without filtering her emotions through self-deprecation or melodrama as a more guarded artist might do. She even manages to do it with a good hook.
I need, I need, I need, I need help.
And I yell, I yell, I yell, “How do I stop this?”
‘Cuz I keep, I keep, I keep doing this to myself
And it’s coming down, it’s coming down like a faucet.
The music video follows Belos as she rides her bike, look-ma-no-hands-style, through the ‘burbs. Blue skies rain sunshine on the roofs of prefabs. Sidewalks loom eerily empty of soccer moms and their hypoallergenic dogs. Then for some reason, Belos scribbles a note and hands it off to a papier mache bird. The bird carries the note across the neighborhood to one of Belos’s bandmembers, who in turn scribbles a new note, and so on through each of the members. By the time the bird returns to Belos, the bandmembers have by chance spelled out the word “POOP,” and Belos gets a giant bird poo on the face. But the music video’s humor does not soften the song’s edge. How much does it hurt to expel those words, “I need help”? Belos barks her gut dry, and the band matches her pain with urgency.
The fast-dragging rhythm slackens to a head bob on the second verse to allow Belos to audit her emotions.
I wanna go outside,
I wanna ride my bike,
but I feel dead on the inside.
I put too much trust in future me.
She can’t be trusted, please trust me.
Everything she says is such a lie.
Another snare barrage tightens the song back up and sends it into another chorus.
It should be noted here that Belos is Sincere Engineer. Although she plays with a full band, she also plays her songs solo on acoustic guitar. On her previous album, 2017’s Rhombithian, she aptly combined punk with emo and folk, and marked each song with her forceful voice. Belos structures “Trust Me” around a descending chord progression, one that comes standard across pop genres and that would also translate well to a solo performance.
And it’s running through the street.
It’s coming after me.
And I might just give in.
There’s nothing I could say that’ll make you wanna stay.
And the thought of it is sinking in.
And so while Sincere Engineer may be carrying the torch for earlier punk acts, there’s plenty of room for the project to evolve into something distinct. Belos has a sound that is at once original and full of references, strong yet pliable; we can expect variety on the upcoming album. And whenever venues reopen for shows, ‘Trust Me’ deserves to be a staple on Sincere Engineer’s setlists.
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Stream: “Trust Me” – Sincere Engineer
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