Twen

Awestruck

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After meeting when they were both involved in Boston's D.I.Y. house show scene, Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones came together to form Twen. A far cry from the unpolished punk and indie bands that incubated in the basement shows of their scene, Twen's slippery sound was moody, thick, and slightly psychedelic. Powerful, steady drumming and loud guitars suggested rock, but Jones' chorus-drenched guitars and Fitzsimmons' expressive and hook-laden vocal harmonies took them into catchier pop territory. After a lo-fi live EP, Awestruck is Twen's fully formed debut, an album that shifts between slow-burning rock moods and soaring ethereal pop. One of the first things to immediately stand out is the way Fitzsimmons blurs her vocals into pleasantly misshapen enunciations. Much like the woozy style of Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser, Twen's lyrics are ambiguous to the point where it's more natural to just assign emotional impressions to the sounds than struggle to follow any specific narrative. The layers of tight harmony on songs like "Make Hard" and the airy dreaminess of "Baptism" are so beautifully evocative that lyrical vagueness is hardly a concern. On "Damsel," the catchiest and arguably strongest song on the album, this blurry vocal style meets driving rhythms and swimmy strands of guitar melodies. A hopeful and jangly 12-string guitar argues with tuneful feedback. Twen are at their sharpest and most accessible on songs like this, though they explore shadowy blues-light dirges ("Long Time") and glowing ambient pop ("Holy River") as the album goes on. The band manages to push their songs through a wide variety of approaches without ever losing consistency. Twen's dark dreaminess is somehow both meticulously precise and drifting throughout Awestruck. Much like Fitzsimmons' obscured lyrics, the songs leave impressions that are cloudy but deep.

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