Opening with the slightly overwrought “Looking For Someone”, Gabriel takes control as the focal point, showing the dynamics he’s learned since the debut. The music is grand and considered, somewhat at odds with the rather ordinary subject matter, and culminating in exactly the type of grand flourish later epics would include. Not the only literary allusion on the album, “White Mountain” takes its inspiration from Jack London, in an anthropomorphic tale of wolves fighting for power (or not). This subject matter is bettered before the album’s end. “Visions Of Angels” suggests the Christian overtones that would color later albums, but emerges as a paean of unrequited love. All the band members are credited with backing vocals, and the cumulative effect of their harmonies on “dance in the sky” (the first word rhyming with “ponce”) causes ones eyes to roll.
Genesis experts long insisted that “Stagnation” was about the aftermath of nuclear war, helped by the vague preface on the lyric sheet, but recent interpretations of it as a monologue by Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings make more sense (particularly given the Tolkienesque painting in the gatefold). At nearly nine minutes, the song does actually stagnate somewhat, but builds nicely in the “I want a drink” section out to the end. “Dusk” is half that length, and doesn’t really sink in at all, particularly with what comes next. “The Knife” is an excellent closer for the album, as it cleanly points the path the band would take going forward. Gabriel takes on the persona of a revolution’s leader, with despotism simmering below the surface of his cleverly treated vocal. The tight precision of the guitar and organ heightens the tension, underscored in the “quiet” section, and culminating in the sound effects that illustrate the inevitable violence.
Genesis would improve, making Trespass easier to appreciate in hindsight. At this point, they were just another band finding their way, and not standing out too much in the process.
Genesis Trespass (1970)—2½