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Twin Sister - In Heaven

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Artist: Twin Sister

Album: In Heaven

Label: Domino

Review date: Sep. 28, 2011

Twin Sister works at the conjunction of indie pop and disco-funk, with singer Andrea Estrella at the whispery center of things. She insinuates, coaxes, glides along on a narcotic cloud through bright arrangements of synthesizer, drum machine, bass and the occasional glockenspiel. Her voice, clear but childishly unmannered, is a vanilla ice cream kind of pleasure: soft, smooth, sweet and unchallenging, if a bit chilly. Meanwhile the band, led by guitarist and songwriter Eric Cardona, and filled out with Gabel D’Amico, Bryan Ujueta, and Udbhav Gupta, exudes ease and confidence during the dense, diverse arrangements.

In Heaven was recorded with a higher degree of gloss than its predecessor, Color Your Life, and there’s a definite nod to disco here, with its gleaming synths and hard-bumping rhythmic underpinnings. As a result, In Heaven has a whiff of pheromone that was entirely missing from the debut. “Stop,” for instance, slouches, struts and pouts like a fashion show mannequin in a credible (though stylized) version of funk sexuality. “Bad Street,” the first single, bumps and grinds, a heat mirage of wah-wah’d chikka-chikka’s dancing over a bottom-heavy bass-line. Estrella even ventures a Blondie-circa-“Rapture” interlude at the end of the song, breaking into a surreal rhyme about kids and feet and streets and who knows what else.

Most of the disco material is crowded near the front, with the latter half of the album fluctuating between Cocteau Twins-style space pop (“Kimmi in a Ricefield,” “Luna,” and “Saturday Sunday”) and some odder, intermittently captivating experiments. “Spain” rides a swaggering surf guitar riff into Bond-girl sexual drama, Estrella’s voice soaring over big, waltz-timed guitar crescendos. “Gene Ciampi” continues the rougher, more emphatic guitar work, this time over a bouncy, vaguely Chicha-esque keyboard rhythm. Closer “Eastern Green,” where Cardona takes over singing duties, explodes with the kind of chiming, inter-woven synthesizer effects that you can only achieve in a band with three keyboard players (even if it does remind you, in a vague, nagging sort of way, of the closing credits to The Breakfast Club).

In Heaven is a significant advance for Twin Sister, both in the way that it smoothes over and clarifies its original aesthetic and in the way it explores a handful of new avenues. It is at least sleek, and maybe occasionally slick, but no less enjoyable for that.

By Jennifer Kelly

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