You, dear reader (hopefully you’re out there somewhere), may be surprised to see me penning a review of a pop band. I can’t blame you. Then again, Twin Sister is no average pop band. I first saw these guys opening for Megafaun at the Silent Barn last spring. Since then, my support for them has been unwavering, my praise of them hyperbolic to the extreme. Towards the end of the show, the battering chorus of “Ginger” made me blurt out that this band was the Weezer of the 21st Century. Granted, Weezer is still a band in the 21st Century (sort of), but that subject is too painful for me to pursue. I wasn’t linking them up with the embarrassingly unselfconscious goofballs behind “Beverly Hills” and Raditude. I was thinking of the endearing nerds who threw pure pop genius in the face of the dominant grunge and alternative rock paradigms. This was almost certainly the whiskey talking, but there’s an element of truth to my dumb declaration. Twin Sister are a true pop band’s pop band. There may not be any overt innovations in their music, but it’s so well conceived, so well crafted and, most importantly, so well executed that you’d be foolish not to give their music a serious listen.
A-side “Ginger” is a crash-course on everything the band does well. It starts off with a wave of texture so simultaneously diaphanous and huge it feels like U2 hallucinating in a cathedral. Insistent drums pound out a simple rhythm on toms and snare, a tinny acoustic guitar creeps stealthily in the left headphone, a beautifully cheap keyboard holds down the bass line. It’s the element of restraint that makes the track so successful. The marriage of sophisticated textures with streamlined structures makes for an irresistible hypnotic thrust. By the time the guitar stabs creep in towards the end of the verse, you’re almost paralyzed by bliss. Finally the curtain draws back, revealing a chorus like a wave of melodic reverb. At times it sounds like bouncy guitar pop of the Smiths slowed down to the speed of a slow-moving liquid. In a word: heavenly. They wisely ride out the chorus to victory, throwing in a beautiful guitar solo and a goosebump-inducing harmony of the words “I love you.” If it sounds corny on paper, get thee to a listening station and revel in great pop’s transformation of the familiar into the unfamiliar.
B-side “I Want a House” goes for drier sonic territory. “I want a house built of old wood,” intones Andrea Estella. “You can paint it any color you like, so long as I can live with you.” At once naïve and calculatingly obsessive, this simple request becomes haunting when paired with a quiet tom-pattern and a ringing, sitar-like keyboard tone. Following “Ginger,” the tune gradually adds subtle texture—some quiet bells here, a chorus of staggered voices there—before milking the foundational groove for all it’s worth. The latter half of the song is simply badass, almost reminiscent of a less junkie-bummed Sly Stone. Dare I say, funky?
I spoke with guitarist and voxman Eric Cardona about the history and future of the band. “We’ve been together one year and a half, but have been wanting to do this for about 5 years. We were always in different bands, and were each others favorite members. Our main influences range from many different things- all of our friends, John K. especially…..Kate Bush, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Cocteau Twins, CAN, Hayao Miyazaki movies, Cats (not the play, we really really love our cats), Roy Orbison, things like that. Our new EP, Aquarellas, will hopefully be done before the new year, we’ve been working very hard on it. We started out very into our recordings, but balancing that out and getting tight with more sexual live performances is our next move, playing lots of shows, etc. In the next phase of us we hope to become better at being a band.”