Word April 2007 www.wordmagazine.co.uk
not entirely sure why it is, but I tend to like bands
who clearly couldn't exist without the Pet Shop Boys
(Junior Boys, Lorraine, um, Trademark) without actually
being that keen on the originals. This undoubtedly
highlights some yawning great flaw in my personality,
but Raise the Stakes isn't going to be the record
to end it. For a start there are the songs, Toe The
Line and Come To Love are great, but Stuck In A Rut
sounds like it's been recorded straight from a mangled
Boots C60 they found in the back of their mum's Austin
Maxi. And they're so deadpan I fear for the health
of their kitchen implements. How Times Change appears
to have been put together on a home computer of the
Sinclair stripe. It's a minute long. Self Pity lasts
90 seconds. Hello, are you my new favorite band?
Thurdsay 25th January 2007 www.popjustice.com
is electro, it is pop
couple of years ago there was this brilliant song
called 'Sine Love' by a trio calling themselves
Trademark. It was a blubtastic electroballad. Well,
the band are back with some new clothes and a new
album called 'Raise The Stakes'. It's great. We
would particularly like to draw your attention to
'Come To Love', a stupendously-chorused pop stormer
which sounds like the Pet Shop Boys and OMD knocking
back Smirnoff Ices down the DIY electropop disco.
can hear 'Come To Love' (and 'Sine Love', and some
other stuff) in full on their MySpace. More info
on their proper website.
there you go.
Times Issue 343 April 2007 www.gaytimes.co.uk
their (largely ignored) Trademark Want More, it wasn't
difficult to raise the stakes. But they've done it,
pushing tempos, beats and buttons. They've neatly
synthesised Fischerspooner and the Postal Service
without loosing their whiff of British bedroom band.
They're still a pub-Rock Petshop Boys and, before
you know it, there will be a 'Nu-Romantics' revolution.
Apart from some misguided epic orchestration - more
Wham than Wagner - this is a fine Electro-Pop album
by lovable, roguish underdogs. But it probably won't
be bothering Tesco's shelves any time soon.
Fly April 2007 www.the-fly.co.uk
electropop has spent a tenacious three decades grabbing
at the souls and feet of a yo-yoing audience, it's
never managed to grab much of rock 'n' roll's supply
of cool. Fortuitously, Trademark understand this
and gave up trying to be hip years ago. Their total
lack of self-conciousness allows 'Raise The Stakes'
to skate across every conceivable synth-based genre
with wit and confidence. 'Come To Love' betrays
their filtered electro-disco bent, 'Stuck In A Rut'
Straddles the New Order/Kylie divide, and elsewhere
everyone from Stephin Merritt to PSB gets the nod.
As standard-bearers, they'll do just fine.
Unlimited Friday 9th March 2007 www.guardian.co.uk
lineup: Oliver Horton (synths, laptop, vocals),
Stuart Meads (synths, laptop, backing vocals), Paul
Soulsby (synths, laptop, FX).
background: Trademark aren't like Ladytron
or Adult. or one of those other new-fangled electroclash
combos who offer a modern take on synthpop, paying
homage to it but essentially moving the music forward.
In fact, listen to Trademark and you'd think you were
back in 1981, when scarily coiffed futurists roamed
the streets and the icy plink-plonk of Messrs Yamaha
and Casio ruled the waves.Actually, the Trademark
boys did spend 1981 sporting funny haircuts and making
squelching noises, but that's probably because Stuart
was two years old, while his cousin Oli was a foetus.
Still, they developed fast: by 1988, they'd formed
a "band" called Technobeat and penned an
album's worth of tunes called Stereo.
years later, the pair, who obviously hadn't even heard
of the Pet Shop Boys, became Trademark. Over the next
four years, they wrote five albums, although only
close friends and family have heard them (and even
they had to be heavily sedated). The 1998 one, Obscure,
was fairly appositely (not to mention PSB-ishly) titled:
apparently, six copies were sold via the Internet,
one to a girl in Italy. Or maybe it was a geezer.
Hard to tell with Italian names.
the turn of the century, Trademark stopped being a
synth duo like Yazoo and became an electro trio like
Yello, drafting in Soulsby. Their next album, Audiologue,
sold a few more copies than its predecessors and contained
early versions of current Trademark staples. Highlights
of the ensuing half-decade include a Pop CD of the
Week in the Times for 2004's Trademark Want More,
and a nationwide tour supporting The Human League.
Throughout 2005 and 2006, Trademark took their melodic
electronic pop plus blank Oakey-does-Iggy basso profundo
vocals on the road and worked on what will be their
first widely promoted album, Raise The Stakes. Start,
er, feeling fascination, or something.
buzz: "Come To Love is a stupendously-chorused
pop stormer which sounds like the Pet Shop Boys and
OMD knocking back Smirnoff Ices down the DIY electropop
truth: They're calling it "the epitome
of 21st Century pop"; problem is, The Human League
et al were doing 21st Century pop 26 years ago, and
this doesn't really take it to the next level - say,
the 22nd Century.
likely to: Get the thumbs up from Pop Justice
and Pop Bitch.
likely to: Have a Number 1 with a song called
Don't You Want My Tainted Love.
next to: The Human League, Pet Shop Boys,
The Beloved, Fierce Girl.
to buy: The single Come To Love is released
by Truck Records on April 16, with the album Raise
The Stakes to follow on April 23.
Sunday Times 4th July 2004 www.timesonline.co.uk
CD of the week
glory days of chart-topping electro-pop — with,
at their summit, such perfect practitioners as Visage,
Soft Cell, Blancmange, early Depeche Mode, Human
League, OMD, Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys — have
long since passed. Yet this hasn’t stopped modern
exemplars of the dark art, such as Ladytron and,
in America, the Postal Service, from attempting
to breathe new life into the format. The latest
band to negotiate the wafer-thin line between innovation
and archival pastiche are this Oxford three-piece,
who, on the basis of Trademark Want More, have got
the balance right. They move the form forwards,
but their devotion to its hallmarks — the unlikely
but successful coexistence of chilly disengagement
and emotional veracity; aloof vocals that recall
Neil Tennant and Marc Almond; a uniform (in their
case, lab coats) that echoes the music’s surface
uniformity; a faith in portentous synth bass lines
and drum machines — betrays the respect and scholarship
of zealots. On tracks as hook-filled, deceptively
detached and sonically billowing as Sine Love, Stay
Professional and Square Wave Anger, Trademark arrive,
fully formed, at the forefront of a still thrilling
genre. This remarkable album, on the tiny but dependably
great Truck label, deserves a huge audience. Four
July 2004 www.tastyfanzine.org.uk
are adamant that they make pop music, and on the evidence
of ‘Want More’, I’m not gonna argue with them. There
seems to be quite a lot of good music coming out of
Oxford at the moment, but Trademark have set themselves
apart somewhat by pushing out a brand of early neo-80s
synth pop. First track ‘My Life in Stereo’ is far
too muscular and Mode-esque for my liking, but second
one, ‘Sine Love’ shimmers like a great New Order track,
say, like off ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’. ‘Square
Wave Anger’ is industrial-lite, and so it goes throughout
the rest of ‘Want More’. However, underpinning everything
is a definite effort to make great big bloody POP!
music. Not for them a piano-led dirge, or even anything
approaching an epic. Nope, Trademark want it hard,
fast and sweet. And so should you. Oh, and they do
the best line in badges. You must get one.
Project July 2004 www.geocities.com/vanityprojectfanzine
you might expect from a Truck outfit, Trademark
hail from Oxford, but as you might not expect, Trademark’s
schtick involves shiny harmonic synths wrapped in
a prickable electronica bubble. They have that mid-90’s
sprightly synth-pop charm, such as was offered up
by Dweeb amongst others back then, that only youth
can bring. However, somewhere between what Qhixldekx
and Trust No One are trying to do down in Portsmouth,
they also move seamlessly to a Pet Shop Boys-like
maturity, a post-millennial Ladytron-esque electronic
sheen and on ‘Getting By’, an almost ecological
calm a la FortDax. An excellent debut LP.
Sound Issue 62 www.rock-sound.net
not long before sticking this in the CD player I was
indulging a rare urge to listen to Soft Cell. Trademark
certainly seam to be aproaching music from the same
seedy back-alley as sex dwarfs Marc Almond and Dave
Ball, seducing with jism-stained promises of depravity
and delight before louchely tossing it aside (only
to bemoan it's loss). Apart from sharing a similarly
sordid electro sound, the duo also share a lovelorn
soulfulness with their forbears that helps round out
their character somewhat - 'Sine Love' for instance
is a lovely synth ballad with a heartbreakingly plantive
delivery that'll have wannabe numanoids weaping into
their Wasps. The Kitsch element here may put off those
seeking 'Authenticity' from their alt-pop, but Trademark
are deeply superficial rather than superficially deep.
in Sound July 2004 www.drownedinsound.com
how I have waited for this album. I have waited
long, and patiently, for a time when Oliver, Stuart
and Paul - a.k.a. Trademark - would have a full
album out, and now I have it in my hands! So, after
so much waiting, what do I think of it?
those of you not in the know, Trademark are the
epitome of the nu-wave old-school revival. Whereas
bands like The Futureheads owe a degree of debt
to XTC and The Killers take their cues from most
bands with synths and headbands, Trademark draw
their influences from the 80s synth-pop scene -
Soft Cell and The Human League for example - and
the end product possesses such style it's scary.
'My Life In Stereo' is the sort of song that the
Pet Shop Boys have been trying to reproduce ever
since 'Actually', with a scratchy electro-over-spoken-word
intro reminiscent of a circus ringmaster. It bleeps
more than your standard Nokia mobile whilst all
the time remaining slightly dark and sinister courtesy
of the synths in the background.
whole album feels like a flashback to two decades
ago yet still manages to sound fresh and new. Tracks
like the beautiful ballad 'Sine Love' prove that
Trademark are more than a mere one-trick pony, whilst
'Interim' makes me want to shuffle my feet under
a shiny disco ball - step the BPM up a notch and
throw in a hip swinging tune for good measure!
is kitsch, catchy and plain fun; I couldn't ask
for more. It showcases everything that the band
are good at, but - and I have posed this question
numerous times before in conversation and in my
earlier demo review - while their talent is obvious
and their polish more gleaming than the Crown Jewels,
can they make the step up to the big time? Bands
like Baxendale have tried a similar thing and vanished
into thin air. Ladytron and Fischerspooner were
once leading lights, but even they're not shining
quite so brightly now.
simple fact is - whether they crack the mainstream
or not - that this deserves a place in anyone's
record collection, whether it be as a retrospective,
a record to listen to before going out to dance
the night away, or for listening to on the bus to
work. It is, quite simply, an electro cut above.
in Sound April 2004 www.drownedinsound.com
1980s may have been and gone but the electro-pop
sound is living through a resurgence (look no further
than Fischerspooner for an example). Trademark could
be among the pioneers of the electro nu-wave generation.
on from their superb self-financed mini-album 'Fear:Disconnection',
this five-track continues to showcase their talent.
From the electro-glam 'This Is Our Trademark' onwards,
the band are on to a winner. 'Interim' is a reminder
of how good the Pet Shop Boys used to be in their
early eighties peak with synths and twinkly sound
call this a demo is almost an insult as the recording
quality is superb but what else would you expect
from a band who supported The Human League less
than a year ago? With their first real album due
out this year on Truck Records. This could be their
last step towards the big time and no-one can begrudge
Oxford June 2003 www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/music
are billed as electro pop which worries me slightly.
However, from the moment three guys in lab coats with
fairy-light lit arms appear, something tells me this
will be far from the pale Duran Duran imitators I
of them hide themselves behind banks of keyboards
and kick off with a tune welcoming us to their weird
and wonderful world. Luke Smith performs at a previous
concert. Coupling the ice cold coolness of Kraftwerk
with the vocal mannerisms of Neil Tennant, the songs
glide and stutter in an effortless way. Trademark
is also probably the only band who could do a lecture
on sound waves mid-set and get away with it. Informative
as well as entertaining!
B July 2004 www.planbmag.com
are boffins. They grew up together and probably
played with technical lego. Want more is
a set of experiments designed to produce a formula
for love: singer Oliver, his voice swooping and
boyishly pretty, sounds rational in his pursuit
of it. You can't hurry love, or science. Behind
him in matching white lab coats, Stuart and Paul
have assembled tools they can trust: Casio, Yamaha,
Korg...Their sound is soft, Kind; controlled to
facillitate understanding. Trademark are staking
their reputation on love being found in the pure
pop song; taking on the work abandoned in the early
Eighties by Vince Clarke when he left the institutle
of Depeche Mode (in association with the Kraftwerk
tests carried out by Orchestral Manouevers In The
stage they have been known to demonstrate how love
is like a sine wave, using a flip chart and diagrams.
On record that love is a pain in the heart. Though
in desperate need of funding, and far from a conclusion,
the early results are highly promising.
May 2004 www.nightshift.oxfordmusic.net
in the early 80s, electronic music it was quite the
purest form of pop, with The Human League, Depeche
Mode and, later on The Pet Shop Boys painting pristine
pictures of a silicon future. Ocford trio Trademark,
though varley out of their teens, are part of a growing
movement of bands inspired by that time, stripping
back the layers of confusion and cross-pollination
that have built up around electronic music over the
More" is Trademark's debut and they start awkwardly,
their transistors obviously not warmed up yet, with
the Pet Shop Biys rip-off "My Life In Stereo".
but Sine Love finds man and machine in closer harmony,
a sci-fi lullaby riding on the hum and chatter of
gentle machinary, sharing a solemn, poetic mood if
not musical style with those other Truck favourites,
are at their most effiecient (hey they are androids
after all, or at least they want us to think as much),
when they let the old-school synth sounds bubble up
around the I. Am. A. Robot vocals, like on "Square
Wave Anger", injecting a rare moment of rage
into proceedings, sounding a lot like forgotten synth
hero Fad Gadget. Of course, they stretch all this
technobabble too far across the album, with metaphorical
cliches like "I directly interface with your
heart", when what they really mean is, "I
want to give you a good seeing to, Mrs Lady Robot".
But then, so much of the very best synth-pop was equally
stilted and pretentious. Check out the first two Human
League albums) a huge infulence by the sounds of it)
to see just how much you can get away with when you
cast off the "keep it real" restraining
belt of rock and roll.
into the album there are unbashed steals from Depeche
Mode (notably "Personal Jesus" on "All
Too Late"). OMD (particually vocally) and Silicon
Teens (oh go on, search them our people, you will
love us and thank us forever when you hear them).
They save the best till last, though: "Triangle
Indifference" with it's vocoder vocals and blink-and-you'll-miss-them
snatches of John Foxx's "20th Century" and
Human League's "The Things That Dreams Are Made
too soft-focus and lightweight to stand up against
the modern synth-pop champions likes of Ladytron or
Nemo, Trademark, though, are a timely reminder that
the future seamed more appealing when we thought it
was going to be all bacofoil miniskirts and antiseptic
glass domes. Bleep and, in a very real sense, bloop.
Interview: In 2004 Stu was interviewed
on XFM to accompany the Trademark live session
recorded for the station. You can also listen
to Stu being interviewed by John Kennedy live