Album Of The Week: Hi Pressure by Twin Drugs
The genre lines of shoegaze band Twin Drugs‘ new record are as hazy and murky as the opaque wonder the sound has always offered. The band is certainly anchored within this misty sound, with a clever knack for creating dark soundscapes populated by nebulous melodies and gossamer tones, but they’ve also clearly grown in talent to the point that they can comfortably reach out while still remaining grounded in this sound, giving them the ability to grasp onto noise tendencies and alt-rock impulses as effortlessly as they construct these dazzling songs. The resulting affair is a finely sharpened shoegaze sound that’s as penetrating as it is lofty, one that can cut harsh and deep with its noise while still mandating the classic rumination fans seek out of the opaque genre.
Opening track “The Tunnel” is an apt introduction to this record, leading the listener through a metaphorical tunnel of their own sonic inclinations, allotting you the length of the song to acclimate yourself to the band’s sound. It’s a driving shoegaze track with some noise flurries that whip past your ear, in just the right amount of time to be noticeable but not jolting, a philosophy the band will double-down on as the record continues to unravel. Near the middle of the song, the band steps back, dropping you into a reprieve of dream pop wonder that points to their understanding of the sound. They’ve mastered it and now they’re onto something new, something they’re going to unload fairly quickly on you as “Even If You Are” rolls in.
With its grunge core, hazy intricacy, and collection of irreverent tones, “Even If You Are” is the perfect summation of Twin Drugs’ sound, producing something entirely comfortable within shoegaze even if it just feels more. More different, more strange, more… compelling. Throw it on a shoegaze mix, and it might stand-out for its originality though it would still feel uniform to the sound. Throw it on an alt-rock mix and it will definitely pop up, but still seem in spirit between Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana songs. Throw it on a noise record and you’ll be faced with your toughest challenge, but those who enjoy that sound often have a very discerning ear, one that will quickly hone in on the pervasive tones that flutter in the beginning and conclusion of the song, while stalking the melodies in between. All of this results in a very acerbic sound that’s remains melodically palatable and sonically inviting. It can jar and it can alarm, but it’s much more interested in inviting you into its fold and showing you the wonders within, even if those wonders might just be more jagged and recondite than you originally thought.
Lyrically, this record is as caustic as its sound, with plenty of surprising barbs that jump out of the sound with their alarming tone. “I’m dousing your garland in kerosene” opens “Even If You Are,” and while it might be the most descriptively violent moment of the record, it’s not quite the most disturbing image when you step back and begin piecing together the bigger picture the band is weaving together. “A bullet to the sun, you should have jumped the gun because I’m trigger happy” happens later in the same song, pointing to the destructive nature of hesitation, while “MWR” closes with a stanza that’s equally as foreboding. “Will you just drag me out and put me down? / Cause I bit and I clamored for illusory future sow.” Both point to destruction and devastation coming more from within, a notion that never ceases to be terrifying and one that almost softens that earlier arsonist lyric, much in the same vein the record itself tries to soften noise tendencies within the confines of dream pop idealism.
Outside of the lyrics, I have to commend the inclusion of the mostly instrumental “French Snare,” a short 70 second musical haze that feels somewhat unfinished and is also prefaced by some studio talk. It’s a wobbly moment in the record, but one that’s necessary as it interjects a level of grounded humanity that puts the rest of the record into clear focus. It’s not so much that “French Snare” is a great song or moment, but more a necessary intermission that keeps the sound going while also allowing you to fuel up so you can tackle the remaining tracks on the record. And as “MWR” comes pounding in followed closely behind the gnawing barbs of “Hi Pressure,” you’ll know why fueling up is so important.
This is shoegaze sharpened in order to cut and carve dream pop into something coarser and fuzzy. Too gnarled to be dreamy, but too abstract to be gritty. It’s just Twin Drugs taking genre blurring to the next level. They’re not interested in fusing polar opposites. No, they’re looking to meld adjacent sounds in order to build something more potent, more striking, and more vibrant. And Twin Drugs did just that here, pulling off a collection of shoegaze that aerates itself far past its contemporaries into a space few others occupy. But even as it floats through the open space now, landing in the periphery of other well-defined sounds, it’s still prominent and spectacular, offering up a sound that demands further listenings and begs further records.
Twin Drugs are playing a record release show tonight, January 18th, at Hardywood Brewery alongside local bands Antiphons, Opin, Castle OG, and Debrider. The show starts at 6 PM and for more information, make sure to click here.