It’s a funny thing when a band like TWIABP can sign to Epitaph and release albums in huge bundles with personalised balloons. In terms of style, these are one of the most absolutely varied bands to have come in the ’emo revival’* boom of the last few years. Previously having maintained a blend of Bomb The Music Industry!’s perky synths and occasional bursts of speed with American Football’s ethereal intricacies, previous album Whenever, If Ever represented a slight maturing towards TWIABP developing their own sound and niche. The first taste for most from this album was single ‘January 10th 2014′, and overall it picked up where that album left off, but with the notable addition of vocals from Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak.
Alongside the two tones of the dual-gendered vocals, another addition to TWIABP’s sound on this album is that of violins (layered to sound like a quartet) – these lead to a strong similarity in quite a few places to more recent Los Campesinos! work. However these and a few other clear references (most notably Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Disarm’ on the track ‘Mental Health’) never really become dominant; through the sheer amount of layers of noises behind each song TWIABP retain their own identity all the while expanding exactly what styles and sounds that includes.
The closest track here to the band’s earliest sounds is ‘Ra Patera Dance’. Fittingly, the title itself is a reference to ‘Eyjaffjallajokul Dance’ from the Formlessness EP, both sharing a slow growth from smaller riffs growing to a crescendo before ebbing away. (and they’re both named after volcanoes too!)
‘Wendover’ could be the standout track from the album, with it’s high-pitched guitar swirls in the background and rhythmic vocals that with a London accent wouldn’t be far off a Jamie T vibe. An all-too-rare comparison to make within this scene to produce a truly memorable song.
Following this, the double-bill of ‘We Need More Skulls’ and ‘Haircuts For Everybody’ could almost be a single track given how they flow together. The first provides an expansive riff-packed break with shades of Deftones about it, a total change of tone that stretches the range of the band ever further. Then the second picks up from the downbeat mood and builds speed quickly back up into one of the best moments on the record at it’s climax with waves and waves of noises giving way to an urgent fuzzy bassline.
The album’s opening and closing tracks are both acoustic for half of their (quite sizeable) lengths, before building to sweeping cinematic climaxes, but without a moment of abrasion. Instead they are left invigorating and uplifting. You can apply that comment across the whole album too – while at first it feels out of place with older work simply through holding less moments akin to ‘Fightboat’ and ‘I Will Be OK, Everything’, but really TWIABP are simply adding to their identity and developing, not losing anything but gaining an album of rich sounds, that’s hugely rewarding to repeat listens.
*substitute for ‘bands that sound kinda like Joie De Vivre that were all together a while ago but suddenly got more popular in 2012’ if you can’t cope with that term.