2:54: The Other I

Every disappointment begin with an expectation. Case in point, 2:54.  The Thurlow sisters made a strong impression with initial singles “Cold Front” and “Got a Hold”, evoking a more bottom-heavy and emotionally distant Cure in their stadium-goth status. But despite being no better or worse than most records of its ilk, the Thurlow sisters’ self-titled debut was perceived as a bummer. Their promising start dulled within the context of 2:54 after it became apparent the band currently had little to offer besides their heavily stylized and insubstantial sulk, which actually works in the favor of The Other I; adjust your expectations accordingly and it’s much tougher to be let down.

That said, The Other I has a slightly different character than its predecessor, as the Thurlows acknowledge the prevailing trends of the past two years and skew more “pop” in a way that rarely feels like calculated troubleshooting. Granted, “pop” doesn’t mean sharp melodies, accessible lyrics, or a discernible personality here. But rather than emphasizing low-end churn, the vocals and drums are pushed to the fore, which puts every song on The Other I in a position to succeed. Colette Thurlow can project and generally sound confident when maxed out, though her vocals serve as more of an appliance than an instrument: they can bring the heat, they’re just rarely given anything to cook. Cranking the drums also proves a wise choice, as these songs are most likely to be distinguished by rhythm alone—”Blindfold” has a saucy, tom-heavy pulse that nods to “Let the Music Play” or “Come Go With Me”, they edge towards country and western on “The Monaco” and trade stricture for Fleetwood Mac shuffle on “Pyro”.

But as with 2:54, the band shows an extraordinary ability to sound alluring within the first 30 seconds of any song without building on it at all. The positive qualities of The Other I makes it sound like it’s carved from marbledense and somehow delicate, cool to the touch, blinding whites and swirled blacks, translucent and glazed, luxurious and intimidating. Consequently, it’s about as easy to engage as a statue.

Which is to say it’s completely without edge, regardless of how you define it—hooks, abrasion, tension, whatever. These sort of standards might seem unfair, as 2:54 aren’t necessarily projecting “We mean it.” There is no screaming, they don’t try to rock in a way that hits with visceral force, the Thurlows never make it obvious that they’re confessing anything. Listen close enough and they just might, though. During the chorus of “Blindfold”, Colette appears to crack just the slightest bit—”A soulful face is looking back at me,” she begins, and the following line can be heard either as “I’m turning quick, losing my pose” or “I lose my pulse.” Whatever it is, there’s that brief possibility of finding relief in letting her guard down. She later bellows, “I don’t want to find my way back home,” which can actually raise expectations for the next time out. 2:54 have built a palatial structure on The Other I, but they still have yet to lay out a welcome mat.

from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1wdFvge