Review Summary: Colourful, atmospheric music with overtones of darkness. A little gloomy or too uptight at times, but accomplished, well produced, and a genuine breath of fresh air.
Twin Brother claim to be an “experimental indie” band. Given indie’s focus on stripping back to the base elements of rock music, I question if there is really scope within that framework to experiment at all. Fortunately, if pressed to define this band’s sound, I would rather go for “post” or “progressive” indie. All equally ridiculous genre titles, but it’s the best I can do. The elements of indie are all in there – the jingly-jangly guitars, group vocals, the simple riffs, but it just isn’t the selling point of the music. The catchy riffs muted, the vocal hooks buried deep in reverb – the arrangements are so unusual for indie rock’s usually predictable style.
The progressive vibe comes from the time changes, multi-layered sounds and unconventional song structures, and from the band’s cheer ambition. A thick wash of guitars generates a wall of sound reminiscent of Be Here Now-era Oasis. It is impressive in scale, but unlike Oasis at their most over the top, Twin Brother do not match their ambitions with arrogance. They are saved from impossible ambition by moments like the last 20 seconds of “Always Split Apart”, remembering what it is to rock, diving headfirst into classic foot-stomping indie mayhem. These vignettes of more traditional rock music assist the listener with this rather challenging album.
Vocals are given a lot of space here, particularly on “Lost Thoughts” where they weave freely in and out of the music. Rather than being the focus of songs, vocals are used as one of a messy smorgasbord of techniques for communicating to the listener. The flaw of this, of course, is listeners finding an opening – like surfing, the tunes are great once you hit the crest and ride a song out, but it can be a battle getting there. I would recommend listening to this while doing something like paperwork – let it creep into the edge of your consciousness.
The band can’t be pigeon-holed at all. Swirling sound effects and drum loops abound on “Places with Names”, and the off-beat of “Lost Thoughts”, with their crazy bass lines, sound more like dubstep than rock ‘n’ roll. These moments are dark, atmospheric, confusing – definitely dubstep influenced. The use of piano particularly enhances this mood, always sounding cavernous and echoic.
The latter half of the album is happier. Songs like “Only In My Head” feel almost euphoric, and “Different Hue” is cheery - both in a shoegazer sort of way. “Only In My Head” is a highpoint, using all the aspects of the band’s sound at their most cohesively and intelligently. It is among the few songs with a chorus I can remember, and a bit of a vocal hook. The next track, “Growing Stronger” has real rock ‘n’ roll guitar bite in it, with these centrepieces of the album providing it with a balanced peak.
Really though, none of the songs stand out that much. With no short, catchy, single-style songs, the audio experience must be one you utterly immerse in; you can’t dip in and out tunes here. The interlinked nature of the chaos on the cover art is very representative of this.
The album closes with an unapologetically happy song, at once both relaxing and danceable. Even on the earlier upbeat tracks, sinister overtones pervaded, but not here. There are no attempts at playing with your mind like on earlier tracks – this is more like a soundtrack to a nature documentary if you were watching it on LSD.
It’s a shame that it’s only here, right at the end, the band sound like they’re relaxing and enjoying playing. Hopefully on subsequent releases they will loosen up and relax a little, but this is still very, very enjoyable stuff.
To my knowledge, this is only available for downloadable purchase from the band's own website (http://twin-brother.bandcamp.com/). You can stream it there for free, too.