Release Date: Nov 11, 2014
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Hard Rock, Punk Revival
Creating ambience-rich music that still feels tangible and grounded is akin to mixing oil and water. Nebulous sounds and freeform compositions with an absence of structures can be liberating, but are also given to meandering messes. On the flipside, adhering to the terrestrial offers up something listeners can more easily latch onto, but just as easily lose interest in.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Named after a particular instant in a Melvins song, 2:54 could also be interpreted as a moment in time when it's too late to sleep and too early wake, when the brain doesn't function as usual and is consumed by a thick fog of delirium. A blissful out of body experience, a panicked longing for physical reconnection; insomnia induced psychedelia.
To denote a second album as sounding more polished than the first always feels like damning its makers with faint praise. A bit of a head patting, yes, good, yes bravo. You’ve been doing this for so long now, and oh my, how you’ve grown. And yet, it does feel appropriate with 2:54‘s The Other I.
After the release of 2:54’s debut in 2012, sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow unsurprisingly found their bond strengthened by their band. This expansive second album – its title inspired by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley – is the product of that increased intimacy. As well as exploring the telepathy between them, it injects literacy into their shadowy pop, and the lyrics are just as windswept and brooding as the compositions.
If Dark and Stormy wasn’t the name of a popular rum-based cocktail, then it could be that of this second album from London-based sisters, 2:54. For, with ‘The Other I’, Hannah and Colette Thurlow have created one hell of a gloomy atmosphere. Drums and guitars crash against each other like the North Sea at its most winterly – except while that conjures up some pretty uncompromising scenes, this follow-up is a little, well, tame.
Sisterhood implies close connectivity and a strong sense of self-containment when working together. Colette and Hannah Thurlow, who clock in as 2:54, demonstrate both aspects on The Other I, the follow-up to 2012’s eponymous debut, with empathy dripping from every verse and chord. Colette titled the album after recalling how the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley spoke of his friend and muse, Elizabeth Hitchener, as the “sister of my soul, my second self.” And so the album sets out to explore the conflict between inner self and outer persona, seen through the vision of two sisters whose brand of music communicates as much, if not more, than their words.
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.
The Ireland-born, Bristol-raised Thurlow sisters – Hannah and Colette – rampaged through 2012 with a self-titled LP that fused the syrupiest layers of Warpaint, the deepest Cure gothisms and dour post-punk delights. Their sound was inarguably dark. Overcast skies swiftly bore thunderstorms in tracks like “Sugar”, “Creeping” or “Scarlet”, and though inexplicably romantic (in the florid, 19th century way as well as the passionate one) at points, the outfit seemed unable to crack a smile – which was absolutely fine; it’s part of the reason that they, along with emotional-kin The xx have burrowed into our hearts.