Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
Pretty much all the best rock bands in the world today come from Melbourne, Australia, and Twerps are at the top of that list. Range Anxiety is the band’s first album for Merge Records, and like their previous releases it’s full of understated guitar pop that doesn’t fit snugly into any of the boxes people try to squeeze it into. It’s not precious or cloying enough to be twee, and not trying to be sophisticated or literary enough to completely bear comparisons to the Go-Betweens or Belle & Sebastian.
Unlike many bands who magically lose everything that made them good when it comes time to record and release their second album, Twerps' sophomore effort delivers almost exactly the same amount of scruffy indie pop charm as their self-titled debut. Now part of the Merge family, the Australian quartet still seems intent on sounding like a Flying Nun band circa the mid-'80s, with all the jangling simplicity, direct charm, and hooky songcraft that entails. Range Anxiety is a great second album that reinforces the group's many strengths, ups the quality of the songs, and sounds a little more confident and powerful.
Isn’t it just wonderful when wonderful things don’t change? Cracking open and guzzling a Coke or unwrapping and gorging a Reese’s Cup strikes my Id’s same satisfying chord as it did when I was a child. Pardon my junk food analogies, but you get my drift. One could – regrettably – decry the bulk of Australia’s indie rock scene’s perpetual hold onto their patented Flying Nun sound as stagnant or derivative.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. As far as influences go, you can do a lot worse than The Clean, one of the greatest bands to come of out of Australia. When Twerps formed in 2008, their stated ambition was to write a song as good as The Clean's 'Anything Could Happen' - a noble intention indeed. The release of their first, self-titled album in 2011 saw a band in thrall to the lo-fi stylings of Flying Nun-era bands like The Chills, and perhaps more strongly to New Zealand's The Bats (whose excellent discography received a reissue last year).
Twerps make things easy on us—they're an Australian band that works exclusively in chime and charm, with guitars jangling in brisk rhythms beneath warm and fuzzy melodies. From the outset, they’ve named the Clean’s "Anything Could Happen" as their gold standard and the Go-Betweens as a formative influence, saving everyone the time it would otherwise take to come up with the proper comparisons. In the past, they’ve dabbled in exploratory instrumentals, ballads, and spoken-word, and all came off as temporary distractions from the things they do best.
Many people roll their eyes at the dated ethos of ‘80s and ‘90s indie rock these days: the heart-on-your sleeve emotionality, the shambling, sloppy guitar work, the blatant disregard for simple-to-follow song structure. Alternative rock has grown up in the last 20 years, sure, but that doesn’t mean nostalgia doesn’t have an increasingly warm place in every music fan’s heart. That’s the territory of Australian band Twerps, who almost seem to wield nostalgia as a weapon, and their new record Range Anxiety.
When Twerps describe themselves as a collaborative band, they really mean it, as all four members contribute to songwriting and vocal duties. On Range Anxiety, they once again team up with producer Jack Farley — who also assisted with the recording of Beaches' sophomore album — and the result is a great continuation of their self-titled debut album and recent Underlay EP. Don't expect a monumental shift on the Australian four-piece's sophomore effort, but when you've got a good formula, why mess with it? Range Anxiety strikes a good balance between the band's more laid-back vibe — which you'll find on tracks such as "I Don't Mind" and "Fern Murderers" — and their more upbeat and jovial iteration, which can be found on highlight "Back To You" and "Cheap Education.
As Real Estate exemplifies in their slackened work ethic, Twerps embrace the normality and mundanity of modern life for inspiration. The Melbourne foursome do like to flourish those finely tuned guitars with a sameness that can easily be confused with listlessness, reflected in somber observations that paint an accurate picture of life lived in a passive, dispirited ease. Things usually don’t go well for them in their songs, which explains their habitual suppression of emotions.
Australian college rockers Twerps are slackers in XL Freaks and Geeks army jackets. They rack up street cred for their despondent pleasantries. They swap stories in short sentences. After giving non-commercial radio stations a field day with their self-titled debut, Twerps are back to enjoy the final weeks of college on Range Anxiety, toasting tall boys in the warmth of a late May sun.
Range Anxiety is the second album proper from these Melbourne “dolewave” janglers. After the anomalous opening track, the synthesiser instrumental House Keys, it soon becomes clear Range Anxiety is a risk-free enterprise. It adheres to the trad indie verities – fey vocals, jangly guitars; prominent tambourine, faux-innocence – but also its conservatism.
Twerps — Range Anxiety (Merge)It took long enough for one of these Australian jangle bands to name themselves Twerps, and — as if it’s an ‘80s movie — it’s taken these Twerps long enough to assert themselves. Four years after their debut full-length, the quartet’s made the move to Merge to release Range Anxiety. If the album’s title speaks of insecurity, the band itself sounds self-assured, digging the sounds that could have come out of Brisbane or Dunedin over the past 30 years but marking their own space.The most obvious touch point is the Go-Betweens, as on “Simple Feelings” and “Cheap Education” (which could have been a lost track from Oceans Apart).
Australia's Twerps specialize in a mellow kind of twee pop that will appeal to fans of Young Marble Giants and the Clean. The 13 songs on their second full-length album have lots of jangle guitar and girl/boy lead vocals, but melancholy riffs, organ lines and anxious lyrics add some welcome cloud cover to the sunshine. Singer/guitarist Martin Frawley has a dry delivery, while singer/guitarist Julia McFarlane has a sweet coo, and they balance each other well.