[Album Review] Twin Within- Horizontal Lines
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Release Date: July 10th, 2015
Hidden Pony Records

One of the great things about The Beach Boys was their use of harmony. It’s no stretch at all to say that they took male vocals to places they’d never been before. They didn’t just use their harmonies as a tool to create a certain sound – their harmonies were the sound.

OK, so Twin Within do not particularly sound like The Beach Boys (except maybe a little bit on “We Talk”), but their music is (almost) all about the interplay of the two voices. Their harmonies, and other vocal arrangements, are clever. Unique, in fact. Although they lovingly draw upon influences such as The Walker Brothers and other chamber pop greats, they do not dwell in the past. They carve out their own territory, creating as distinctive a sound in 2015 as The Beach Boys did back in the early 1960s.

Impressive enough, right? But it doesn’t end there. Steve McKay and Alex Samaras are also gifted songwriters and instrumentalists. Songs like “Yeryard ’78” feature excellent melodic progressions, and there are some memorable turns of phrases throughout the album as the pair muse about the complexities of modern adult life. Furthermore, every song has a strong rhythm — from the ’70s soul vibe of “As Always” to the slinky shuffle beat of “Night Danger”.

Although the duo never allow the complexity of the instrumental arrangements to overpower the songs themselves, the richness is there, especially in the percussions and leopards. A good case in point is the delicately beautiful “Faraway Car Ride”. In the foreground the two men sing a contemporary madrigal, but their voices are buoyed up by some exquisite reverb guitar and most particularly by McKay’s work on the celeste.

One is reminded of the classic works by Paul Simon, in that the compositions sound effortless and therefore deceivingly simple. ‘Horizontal Lines’ has been in the works for five years. During that time Twin Within have planned every sound down with precision. This careful execution becomes evident with repeated close listens. To make that all somehow sound simple? Now that’s a good trick.