If Twin Sister were to quickly disappear from the face of the earth leaving just these two EPs, they still would have achieved more in ten songs than most bands could muster in as many albums. The allure of Twin Sister is that they’re the perfect idiot savant band. Their songs are so unpredictable and eccentric in style and construction as to both prey upon the affectations of those who expect more out of their music while sounding so ready for public consumption that they’re destined to be one of those Urban Outfitter type bands who’s music isn’t played to sell records but to keep people in the store.
Spread across two CDs, Vampires With Dreaming Kids (2008) and Colour Your Life (2010) bring together the first two releases from these Long Island natives. Originally given away for free on their website (oddly to their credit this is still the case), there’s a certain amount of naïve self-expression and experimentation at hand. Vocalist Andrea Estella’s voice has a sleepy PJ Harvey/Bjork-ish cuteness that when set against the eerie backing and dry acoustic guitar of Vampires… lead track “Dry Hump” she can deliver a line like “if you’re out alone, bring over your bones/and pay me” without it sounding dirty or outré.
Shades of Pavement’s Slanted & Enchanted roam on “Ginger“ over mounting harmonies and sweeping guitar solos, while the finger-picked folk of “Nectarine” and its flourishes of slide guitar unfold a different side of Twin Sister with lead vocals shifting from female to male. “I Want A House” evokes a romantic Devotion-era Beach House, “I want a house built of wood/you can paint it any colour you like/just as long as I can live with you”. Another of Twin Sister’s strengths is their ability to build and change within song. To start out small then grow legs to stand tall and “I Want A House” is evidence of this. Harmonies build and percussion grows to fill the empty spaces while a bass riff rallies together a last minute funk coda.
If Vampires… alone isn’t enough to render you mute, Colour Your Life does exactly what the box says. The ocean sounds and subtle Krautrock rhythms of “Other Side of Your Face” is love at first listen. Harmonies lap against the shore as Twin Sister take a moonlight dip and come up shining. It’s here the band makes their mark, existing in a quasi-shoegaze dreampop world, surrounded by eccentric Kate Bush-isms (“Milk And Honey”) and dizzying disco gems (“All Around And Away We Go”). With pop music being so scripted, lineated, watered down and copied, it’s rare for a band to actually break free while still being true to “the song”. Of which there needs to, and has to be, more of this.