Giggling with youthful exuberance to sign off an album that puts the realities of adulthood, sacrificing art to pay the bills and the little universal nuisances of life under the microscope, atmospheric “So Funny” is a fitting finale on the Summer Twins’ Limbo; a musical equivalent to a sabbatical of self-discovery and a wise euphemism for the period of one’s life full of crossroad indecisiveness. The album was recorded in seclusion in Sacramento with producer Chris Woodhouse to add another meaning to the word.
“Scared about the future, scared about the past, scaring of holding life with fear, scared that life won’t last“, harmonizes early-twenty something sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown on the aforementioned closer before ridiculing the silliness of life-philosophizing with laughter. Yet to get this point, requires buddying up and travelling with the Californians on their rewarding road journey of Waxahatchee stylized reflection and fear-facing closure. It’s refreshingly non-pretentious, full of intelligent integrity on a musical scale – Chelsea and Justine were taught piano and violin but neither feature on the album – but still from the point of view of their age group, furthermore the album’s cover shows the sweetness of sibling play-fighting and holding on to the fun moments of mortality.
A retro-drenched mixtape appropriately acts as the nostalgic tour guide. Nostalgia is two-fold in the form of lyrics and musical styles. On the face of it, it fits in the spectrum of the early 2010s indie pop of Cults, El Perro Del Mar, Camera Obscura and Those Dancing Days – partly due to cheerful simplistic rhythm in the verse-chorus pattern and feathery vocals. Yet there’s such a raw and respectful nod to 1990s post-grunge, surf pop and 1950s rock n’roll coated in the echoey Wall of Sound production through well-timed harmonies – their diversity is strongly shown in the Aquarelo do Brasil-reminiscent “So Funny” and fuzzy shred guitar jamming that the Summer Twins have got their own fusion style patented.
Limbo is an album that’s stylized enough to give them a solid identity, yet manoeuvres enough to keep things from being too predictable, whilst there’s enough instrumental moments of awe to convince the majority of rock listeners to see them live with their bassist Michael Rey. “Fire” stretches the jogging chords of Bow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and turns up the wobbling psychedelic heat, the mirror-ball prom dance of “Our World” is split up by a melodic lap-steel guitar bridge and the masterful blues haze on “Ouija” add a mean edge to their commonly-used ecclesiastical electric organ.
For all the musicianship skill on show, it’s the song-writing that is meant to be grabbing the most attention. This is why there is such an emphasis on each individual word spoken in an anti-shoegaze syllabic fashion. The clarity of pronunciation let’s us enjoy their coming-of-age narrative. “All this frustration, I need a vacation” is a purposely ironic and dramatic whine in a song mostly about procrastination, time-killing and laziness (“Stop And Go“).
“We kissed it, it felt so wrong. Not what I expected”, displays the naivety of expectations (“Helpless“). Whilst “Blinds” is the most effective lyrically for describing a ubiquitous moment of insecurity where humans want to hide away in a safe cocoon where “there’s nothing to fear” and also sounding like the singer’s stuck in the cabin inside the video to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
“Our World” and “Ouija” are striking opposites in terms of their patient trust in unknown fates but both displays the juvenile dreamer. Whilst the former shows faith in the unknown in the lines “our day will come, just you wait and see”, the latter desperately asks the risky fortune-telling Ouija board for guidance.
The biggest accomplishment of Summer Twins’ Limbo is how it makes the audience care about the storytellers like nurturing parents, feeling like they’ve observed their growth, watched their maturity process. There’s no better way to make there growing allegiance anticipate their next chapter. Summer Twins’ Limbo is out now via Burger Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Matt Hobbs