Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
In Heaven positively glows. From the opening vibraphone strikes of “Daniel” onward, Twin Sister’s debut full-length carries with it a magnificent incandescence, with Andrea Estella’s addicting voice and Eric Cardona’s more earthbound one serving as its flighty anchors. Acting on the promise of their Vampires with Dreaming Kids and Color Your Life EPs and then some, the album serves as an unassumingly magnificent vehicle to show off the band’s impressive command on songwriting.
Twin Sister spent last winter holed up in a rented house in the Hamptons, writing and recording their first full-length album after a series of EPs in 2008 and 2010. In Heaven is just what you would expect to come out of a summer house in the depths of winter—dreamy and blissful, but at times lonesome and haunting. Driven by the romantic coos of lead chanteuse Andrea Estella, the span of a proper, 10-song record has allowed the Long Island quintet to traverse the distance of their enchanting breed of indie pop, moving from synth (“Daniel”) to funk (“Bad Street”) to pure, idyllic abstraction (“Kimmi in a Ricefield”).
Twin Sister find themselves part of the dream pop revival that briefly went through that bizarre chillwave moment — but while the band found themselves lumped into the trend, there's too much here for that shallow moniker. No, this is dream pop in the classic vein of, well, some other Twins and like groups Stereolab. In Heaven is a well-produced, inviting album with some wonderful moments spread throughout.
Although In Heaven is nominally the début album by Long Island quintet Twin Sister, it somehow nonchalantly skips around the very notion of the début album as definitive musical statement. That's not to say it doesn't arrive with the weight of expectation on its shoulders; since their 2008 début EP Vampires With Dreaming Kids they've garnered a growing fanbase and further critical acclaim, with last year's Color Your Life EP, particularly the indie-pop disco-topia of 'All Around and Away We Go'. That those two EPs fitted together so nicely for the group's debut UK release last year is testament to a the development of a distinctive sound, deep and warm, cool and catchy, as capable at pulling you with its hooks and it is at seducing you with its atmospheric delights.
When Long Island's Twin Sister put a picture of a shabbily decorated dollhouse on the cover of their 2010 Color Your Life EP, it seemed like a mission statement: Here is small, intimate music meant to feel comfy and lived-in. And from the pillowy indie-pop numbers to the more stretched-out, soft drone pieces, it was the kind of record that just felt nice to hear. You wanted to cuddle up with it.
So much about In Heaven, the full-length debut from Long Island quintet Twin Sister, could be boring as hell: The music flirts with all those annoying genre buzzwords (i.e. “chillwave”); the songs get compared to trend-setters like Beach House and Bjork, mainly because of sweet-natured vocalist Andrea Estella, and the arrangements don’t tend to surprise all that much (check the glowing ‘80s beats on “Space Babe” or the lazily unfolding synth arpeggios that decorate “Luna’s Theme”). But In Heaven, I’ll be damned, somehow manages to rise above its easy reference points, finding subtle ways to impress in spite of its occasionally obvious methods.
The warm glockenspiels that open the first song, “Daniel”, frame Twin Sister‘s thesis, which is all about swirling, layering of sounds and the lovely vocals of Andrea Estella and Eric Cardona (who sounds like Dan Bejar’s younger brother). The Brooklyn-based band has been compared to The Cocteau Twins and Portishead at different turns, which is understandable in terms of the complex composition and richly pieced together atmospheres; but on In Heaven, their full-length debut (after EP’s Vampires With Dreaming Kids and Colour Your Life), it is a wonderful mixture of Deerhoof and New Order that comes to the fore. “Stop” surprises because it has a funky bass line that brings to mind Nile Rodgers carousing with an eighties synth pop band, segueing seamlessly into the more uptempo “Bad Street” which wears its disco sensibilities on its shiny sleeves.
For a buzzed-about band, Twin Sister sure took its own sweet time, at least by today’s standards, in pulling together its first album, In Heaven. In the time that it takes many a blogosphere darling to come and go, the Long Island quintet has been slowly but surely working up to its debut LP, only releasing a few appetite-whetting EPs since forming in 2008. So while it would be easy to lump this up-and-coming band in with NYC’s flavor-of-the-month aesthetes, Twin Sister actually seems to enjoy moving at a slower pace off the beaten path, as suggested by the factoid that In Heaven was conceived last winter in an off-season Hamptons rental.
In Heaven, the debut LP from Long Island indie-poppers Twin Sister, is a subtle record, the kind that doesn’t hit you at first, but after a few spins, it becomes like pajamas: something you don’t think about much, but appreciate when it is good. That’s not necessarily the most ringing endorsement for a band’s record, but Twin Sister aren’t really a band made for bold statements, end-of-the-year list placement talks, or next-big-thing promises. This is a band that is good at what it does, nothing more and nothing less.
Twin Sister remain a wild card on In Heaven, the band’s full-length debut. The group took a while to release its first album, instead issuing a pair of EPs that flitted from style to style with playful abandon. That they waited three years to release In Heaven might suggest that the bandmembers were preparing something more cohesive, but things haven’t changed much; though Andrea Estella, Eric Cardona, and company have tightened up their song structures and sharpened their hooks a bit, they’re still as eclectic as ever.
Like many young indie pop groups, Twin Sister are still defining their sound. The Long Island five-piece, led by ethereal singer Andrea Estella, has released a few EPs and several tracks online, all with a lazy, ambling afternoon vibe that they explore further on their debut LP. On In Heaven, the group moves slightly away from a live band sound to flesh out their effete, gently rhythmic pop and R&B with loftier studio flourishes like amorphous analog synths, strings and vibraphone.
Tucked away in some distant corner of the space-time continuum there exists a parallel universe where the musicians beloved of the fans of what one might term alternative are household names whose songs and actions really matter to more than just the select few. It's a world where St. Vincent is a bigger superstar than Madonna, where Dan Bejar cures starving African children and dines with the Pope, and where TV adverts for flash cars are soundtracked by Venetian Snares instead of Moby.
Mark McGuire The young guitarist Mark McGuire, who plays in the band Emeralds but spends the off hours making his own recordings — dozens of them, sometimes in runs of under 100 — creates dense noise and sweet music too. Underneath his interest in 40-year-old, spaced-out German instrumental ….
There’s much more to this act’s music than tweeness – and it can get a bit sexy, too. Chris Parkin 2011 Twin Sister’s star-bright melodies and honeyed harmonies; front lady Andrea Estella’s wistful sighing and indie-as-a-pin-badge bangs; the band’s washed-out vintage-styled press photos and general surface-level chirpiness. Together, all these factors might have newcomers concluding that this Long Island five-piece are all sweetness and light and retro satchels.
The release of Twin Sister’s debut LP, In Heaven, is the band’s bat mitzvah—now, Twin Sister is a woman. In its first full-length, the band establishes the basic components of what makes Twin Sister’s sound distinctive and easy to listen to: plodding wooziness, synth, Andrea Estella’s almost nasal singing, a touch of ’80s nostalgia and a pervasive indie hipsterishness that sounds like what plimsolls from Urban Outfitters look like—after all, Williamsburg is technically a part of Twin Sister’s home base of Long Island. Twin Sister has a sound, a well-produced, dreamy, indie synth-pop, slightly funky sound, and In Heaven sees the band blend teaspoons of different genres into that mix.