Album review: Twin Rains – Automatic Hand

November 16, 2016
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Twin Rains - Automatic HandTitle: Automatic Hand
Artist: Twin Rains
Record Label: Independent / Rough Trade distribution
Date: 18 November 2016
In One Word: Escapism

I knew after listening to about ten seconds of “Before” that is the kind of music that deserves an atmosphere. I plugged in and cranked my sound dock, and opened a window just a crack. It was around sunset, and the few rays that leaked through were the only light in the room. As I sat with my head back, I was transported into a colorful dreamscape. Rife with raw emotional lyrics and miraculously interwoven instrumentals, Automatic Hand is nothing short of a journey in itself.

I’m not extremely well versed in this specific genre (electro dream pop), but this album is one of the strongest debuts I’ve witnessed. Automatic Hand explodes with elements of jazz, blues, and contemporary dance music that when combined, create an effective appeal to escapism and a refreshing and inventive take on modern dream-pop. I struggle to liken Twin Rain’s music to anything I have previously experienced.

Although pop-ish songs like the title track are more upbeat, the album also finds some of its strongest moments in its simplicity. Songs like “Break the Crown” which feature more repetitive vocal phrases and less instrumental layers offer great emotional appeal, and I found myself unable to resist singing along even during the first listen. Vocalist Christine Stoesser maintains a gripping and breathy sensation throughout the entire album. Consistently, instrumental interludes separate vocal phrases and build very gradual tension, relived by tastefully placed vocal climaxes. This duo definitely has a song-writing formula that works but manage to not sound formulaic. Stoesser’s vague and poetic lyrical content creates a very abstract image of song intention, which audiences will definitely find appealing. No one image is forced, but lyrics is very invoking of individual interpretation. Listening to the album front to back it is impossible not to pay attention to lyrics, and each has a feeling distinctly of its own. The vocals float along beautifully with the dreamy pace in which Twin Rains create their trance.

In general, some of the instrumental compression created in the mixing/mastering process, especially in regard to the drums, may be a bit over the top and detract from the albums ability to create a truly complete atmosphere, but this is definitely not a deal breaker. The whispery vocals are a unique and original sound, but some of the more dance-oriented and upbeat songs just beg for a bit more vocal bite and a more present vocal motif —this is where curiosity will drive this listener to experience Twin Rains live.

Overall this album is a very thoughtfully combined collection of songs and a very promising, exciting debut. Flaws are minor, and the record provides Twin Rains with a solid foundation to promote with and grow off of musically — and there’s no doubt that audiences will greet the release positively. Go crack a window, crank your stereo and take a journey with Twin Rains.

© Robyn Bond, Music Vice

Internet Link: Twin Rains

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