Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Them Are Us Too : "Remain"
Lets go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room first before we head into the album. I am a huge fan of the Cocteau Twins. Was ready to head out to Coachella the year they were rumored to be reuniting. So I am going to be the most sympathetic to the idolatry going on here. It might be easy to write them off as a tribute to the Cocteau Twins, but when was the last time you heard some one able to pull off the sonic fairy wonderland the Scots did in the 80s? The whole post-punk revival of the past few years has almost been comprised entirely of bands directly lifting from either Siouxsie and the Banshees or Joy Division, and it doesn't take the jaded ears of an old goth like me to hear that. What works for the best of those bands and for Them Are Us Too is when they peel back the influences and expose the parts of themselves that are infused along side the hero worship. I know when I played my fiance Kate Bush it ruined Tori Amos for her, so if you have a similar allergy to heavy influence then this may or may not work for you, but this album is worth a listen regardless because of the sublime sounds this duo has managed to capture.
Right from the first song Kennedy Ashlyn Wenning's voice makes you take notice, before "The Problem With Red Heads" allows her to shed some of the Elizabeth Fraser worship when the duo drifts into an alluringly dreamy rock. Sure this would not have been out of place on 4AD, in the 80s and the band encourages these comparisons. This also reminds of the Gatherings post- metal moments. Her choice of melodies shows she cares abut crafting something that is not just a tribute. I can almost hear more Cure than Cocteau Twins until Cash Askew's guitar comes to prove he has discovered the lost secrets to Robin Guthrie's sound.
The bat cave stomp dominates the dance floor at the onset of "Us Now" before she strings you back up into the narcotic cotton candy of her melodies. The drum machines don't get on my nerves, they are well handled and mixed, tapping into the key to acheiving that 80's sound by having every instrument has to be in agreement. When the drum does fall back into a more lo-fi sound the guitar steps in to fill the gaps. We begin to hear the upper reaches of her soprano on "Marilyn" The male vocals bring almost a This Mortal Coil element into the album and keep them from standing solely in the shadow of the Cocteau Twins.
There is a more somber and introspective tone to the music that her fey-like vocals float like bubbles over. It's more "Blue Bell Knoll". So at least they are not just fixated on one element of their Scottish idols. The saving grace is the places where she deviates, which is what I listen find myself listening for more. One way to see it is, it's not like the Cocteau Twins are going to be getting back together and doing this in our present reality, so I am glad these kids are carrying the torch. The more rock quality Guthrie's tone never really ventured into transpires on "694 Mi". He is overall more experimental with the use of effect on this song. Her voice even takes on more heft, which is where it brings me back to that Gathering quality I spoke of earlier.
The album closes out with them taking a shoe gazey drift on "Fall". This is the most straight forward song on the album despite is angelic hover. It gives you a clearer view of her voice and her own identity as a singer. One thing about this album is ll of the songs are strong, there are none that felt any less inspired than the others. It's easy for me to round this one up to a 10, even with the influences worn on their sleeves.