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Album Review: Twin Sister – In Heaven

In Heaven is the debut album from Long Island quintet Twin Sister. Ears started twitching with the release of their first EP ‘Vampires With Dreaming Kids’ in 2008 and last year’s ‘Color Your Life’ brought the band firmly within hearing. ‘Color Your Life’ earned them much acclaim, as well as comparisons with Bjork and the Cocteau Twins, and a reputation for dreamy synth pop. Yes their influences are certainly discernable in the album, but such references are too easy and obvious and don’t serve to tell the whole story.

‘Daniel’ gives In Heaven its mellow, shimmering start with chimes and synth, which is only enhanced by the soft breathy vocals of Andrea Estella. The band’s female vocalist, her voice melts ever so sweetly around nostalgic lyrics of a hopeless love:  ‘you’re so far away and god knows when I’ll ever get the chance to touch your hands.’ ‘Bad Street’ cranks the pop volume up, moving into fun synth-y keyboard-y electro-y beats.

The light airiness of the first half of the album suddenly takes a swooping plunge into a darker arena with ‘Kimmi In A Rice Field.’ A David Lynch Twin Peaks-esque vocal harmony rides above an anthemic drum beat and, of course, lots of synth, while the next track ‘Luna’s Theme’ can be directly compared to ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’ from the series. There is an undeniable similarity from which it most certainly must have taken its genesis.

‘Gene Ciampi’ takes another unexpected dive into the world of the Spagetti Western, a faster rhythm but retaining a dreamy quality. The album ends in a similar manner as it began, with the last couple of songs bringing back a more summery, serene feel.

Any criticism Twin Sister’s debut has received is mostly concerned with the album’s lack of one particular, distinctive sound. Critics have bemoaned Twin Sister’s inability to pick a genre and stick to it, but surely this is what makes this album so special. In Heaven is fearless in playing with genre and crossing eras to create some stunning music. They use a delightful and eclectic mix of sounds, from surreal synth pop, to indie pop, 80s disco, electro, psych-rock and even a little bit of funk. It is precisely this lack of type, the fact that they cannot be pigeonholed, that makes the album interesting to listen to and which propels one track onto the next. As for having a distinctive sound, in my opinion, they do. There is a definite cohesiveness to In Heaven, even if it does seem to defy definition. Maybe it is the haunted wistfulness that is infused throughout the album, or maybe it is that, in spite of the love for sub-genre categories, it is still a work of Pop. Whatever it is, each track slips sinuously and effortlessly into the next, each new sound plain coming as an enchanting surprise to delight the ears.

In Heaven is out now and available via Domino.

-Laura Peebles


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