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December 11, 2017

Twin River unveil infectious, exciting debut LP

Canada has recently been perfecting its spin on the doe-eyed, indie-pop genre. Vancouver trio Twin River’s debut album, “Should The Light Go Out,” released Feb. 17, acts as an impressive part two of a one-two punch of Canadian indie-pop when paired with fellow Canadians Alvvays’ self-titled 2014 debut.

And while “Should The Light Go Out” doesn’t have an unforgettable world-beater of a single a la Alvvays’ “Archie, Marry Me,” it does share quite a bit of the sonic DNA that made “Alvvays” such a surprisingly phenomenal record. The choruses are huge and delightful, the female lead singer’s – in this case Courtney Ewan Bromley – vocals are impeccably smooth and sweet and everything is absolutely drenched in flattering, warm reverb.

Twin River began as a folk duo consisting of Bromley and guitarist Andy Bishop, who, as Bromley said in an interview with CBC Radio, mostly “sat cross-legged on stools.” Over the years, they transformed themselves from a melancholy acoustic duo playing stark, spare tracks to the spirited garage-pop group they are. And though they did not begin life in the clothes they are in now, the sound the band adopted fits perfectly.

“Bend to Break” is a simple, but insanely catchy thrill ride. Barely clocking in at two minutes, its guitars struggle to catch up with the song’s breakneck rhythm. Ragged, but deceptively well written, it’s a wildly fun piece of garage rock and pop.

“Secret In A Séance,” with its vintage garage rock and early 60’s girl group influences, brings Black Lips to mind – a recurring sonic touchstone throughout the album. “He’s Not Real and He Ain’t Coming Back” slows things down, and as a gorgeous ballad, hits all the right notes. Bromley’s voice booms through the speakers, while the song’s synths tower imposingly over the song, stamping the song’s dramatic emotions down with authority. “Get Gone,” despite clocking in at almost five minutes, loses none of the album’s early momentum, delivering more well-constructed hooks and yet another triumphant chorus.

On the album’s second half, however, Twin River tries to cross more experimental terrain, with unfortunate results. “Should The Light Go Out” is always at its most effective when at its most simple: doling out delightful, bite-sized pieces of garage-pop. “Golden Man,” a mammoth, 10-minute art-rock epic, sticks out on the album like an incredibly sore thumb.

Though its consistent rhythm and interesting harmonies make it hypnotic at first, the spell fades quickly. Unfortunately, though, the song has six verses to plow through before it gives way to the next track. Though one can look at it as an admirable experiment, on an album where speed and simplicity win the day, “Golden Man” destroys the album’s early momentum.

Even when “Should The Light Go Out” returns to its original, winning formula for its final two tracks, “Laugh It Off” and “A Thousand Times,” one can’t help but feel like the band made a grave mistake with “Golden Man.” But, not all albums are perfect from beginning to end, especially ones that focus so heavily on zippy, two-minute singles. So, at the very least, Twin River cooked up four or five tracks that you really cannot go wrong with. So sit back, press play and pretend it’s summer already.

Jackson Maxwell can be reached at jlmaxwell@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @JMaxwell82.

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