Band members leaving between albums is a fact of life—but when your band is a duo, such a departure can be downright crippling. Yet Robert Alfons didn't see things that way when Maya Postpeski left Trust after the band's debut, TRST. Soldiering on, Alfons recorded Joyland while touring the world, and it sounds like many of the places he visited were deep underground. An always enthralling, occasionally discomfiting tour through gothic synth-pop textures past and present, the album features aggressive bass blasts, skittering melodies, and sinister synths, recalling such goth all-stars as Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, KMFDM, and early Ministry. Alfons bathes his vocals in an array of effects, singing every part, from the falsetto chirping of "Are We Arc?" to the relatively unadorned baritone of "Capitol." Brooding and booming, songs like "Rescue, Mister" and "Four Gut" evoke pistons churning in dank Siberian factories. Yet Joyland's title isn't completely ironic: "Capitol" boasts an ebullient chorus, and "Lost Souls/Eelings" weaves a melodic web of warbles through its churning beat.

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