Under Review: Twin Sister – In Heaven

I’ve always had a fascination with the first song on a given band’s first album. To me, it’s a declarative statement, announcing both ‘Here we are’ and ‘This is who we are.’ More often than not, those first songs feature slight variations on that band’s main musical mode, offering just enough of a hook before the band gets into their groove. Think of songs like Talking Heads’ “Uh Oh, Love Comes To Town” or The B-52s’ “Planet Claire.” Despite having a number of eclectic EPs already to their credit, New York quintet Twin Sister don’t make themselves any easier to pin down on their debut album, In Heaven. If you only went by In Heaven’s opening track, “Daniel,” you’d be led to believe that Twin Sister is a cocktail jazz-inspired mood music group. Swirling synths and a nagging percussion sequence just barely accompany Andrea Estella’s unusual vocal style, which sounds like a cross between Madeleine Peyroux and Shivaree’s Ambrosia Parsley. Just a few songs later, on the sassy “Bad Street,” funk and R&B are the predominant influences. Twin Sister continue changing things up on just about every song, but In Heaven never sounds disjointed.

Atmospheres are a big part of In Heaven’s particular character, and while each song is very different from its companions, the moods are all established strongly and quickly. The spacey-yet-pastoral “Kimmi In A Ricefield” evokes a sense of being blissfully lost in nature, and the late-album delight “Gene Ciampi” is a Morricone-esque roundup. On the whole, Twin Sister sound like a more skeletal version of a number of late ‘80s pop bands. “Saturday Sunday” recalls Harriet Wheeler and The Sundays and with its breezy delivery, and “Space Babe” is a laid back take on New Order’s melodic house music. Direct comparisons are easy enough to bandy about (as you can see), but the truth is that Twin Sister’s sound is as unique as it is difficult to fully ascertain. Sure, they’re a pop band at heart, but no deviation from that core is off limits to them. As a debut album, In Heaven doesn’t quite deliver on the exact promise set up by Twin Sister’s EPs, but it shows that there’s much more to Twin Sister than those EPs ever could.

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~ by E. on October 3, 2011.

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