A quick glance at a bio / press sheet for trespassers william and you might think that they are either in danger of becoming far too precious or overexposed. Evidence to the former includes the fact that their name is taken from the Winnie the Pooh classic tale “Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.” A broken sign, which most likely read, “Trespassers Will Be…” (add in `prosecuted,’ `shot’ or any other modifier to fit your fancy) and is instead cut off at the `W’ is said by Piglet to be short for his grandfather’s name, Trespassers William. Evidence to the latter includes having songs included in episodes of The O.C. and various MTV `reality’ shows. It might be surprising for most to know that once you get beyond the paperwork, trespassers william is one of the most lush, sonically dense, and beautifully put together bands today.
Bless public radio for the success of trespassers william as stations in their two `homes,’ Los Angeles (KCRW) and Seattle (KEXP), have championed this dream-pop act since their first release. Begun in the unlikely heyday of the ska / punk revival Petri dish in the Southern California of the late ’90s, the band flourished in the ears of more sophisticated listeners. An early CD caught the attention of the Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde who promptly released the work on his own Bella Union label in the UK. Since then, trespassers william have made a move to Seattle and found a kindred spirit in the producer of their new album, Dave Fridmann, the man behind stellar albums by the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and Mogwai. But he is ultimately not what sets trespassers william apart in a music landscape full of ’80s and ’90s homage bands, and even frankly among the other hip indie acts also featured on the show that takes place in their former backyard. For that you’d have to look at original members Anna-Lynne Williams and Matt Brown.
Williams’ voice contains the kind of even-tempered and soothing as herbal tea tones that are not often found in modern music. There was a good run for a while in the ’90s with Hope Sandoval, Harriet Wheeler and Margo Timmins, but they didn’t seem to last. Matt Brown’s guitars and keyboards provide an ethereal backdrop for the lush vocals, drifting in and out as if through fugue states or waking dreams. Like contemporaries Sigur Rós, trespassers william create sweeping sonic surfaces on which you feel you can easily glide, skimming above the sound with delicate wings. “My Hands Up,” with its short jazzy guitar strums and tinny snare drum and cymbals along with honest and earnest lyrics, is just one great example of the gorgeous mix of styles for one pervasive and plaintive mood.
One could tend to think trespassers william too precious, but that would betray the true nature of the luxuriant and wistful pop they have perfectly crafted. Mistaking them just by the appearance of their music on `popular’ shows is like mistaking the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh with the Milne version and its accompanying Ernest Shepard artwork. The true original is tinged with just a little sadness, the one that comes from knowing that this boy’s secret world is tenuous at best and the loneliness of the animals involved is akin to the loneliness of both the little boy and the adult telling the story. The band rises above the pseudo drama of The O.C. with truly dramatic music that ignites something in the heart and soul.