There’s something incredible that happens when a song—or even just a sound—can evoke a place or feeling. And usually the music that can do that is rooted, firmly and fervently to a place and time.
Twin Rains is well on their way to achieving that. The duo, one-time Toronto roommates Christine Stoesser and Jay Merrow, used to be in a band known (and Degrassi famous) for their gritty rock sound. But when the band of housemates, Make Me Young, disbanded, the two were left composing songs for film and television—and feeling short on inspiration.
It was a move to Vancouver that turned out to be the cure. A one-year getaway turned into four and the pair, without realizing it, quickly morphed into a new dream pop sound that turned into a debut album for their new band.
Automatic Hands feels like the kind of music a Torontonian might play—or listen to—if they suddenly slowed down. The inescapable west coast culture of getting outside, breathing deeply and languidly exploring feels like it has gripped Stoesser and Merrow, to great effect.
There’s still a little push in openers “Before” and “a Swim,” especially as the latter peppers Stoesser’s dreamy vocals with pulsing bass and percussion, driven by the edge in Merrow’s guitar.
“Pons” fades into something more hypnotic, while “Flash Burn” livens up a melancholic number, easing away from the original synth and peppering Stoesser’s heartbreak with jaunty chords.
There’s a nice, dreamy interlude for “Ghost Bird,” and an instrumental escape that encapsulates so much of the band’s new sound. And while there are rock roots on show for the eponymous “Automatic Hand,” by this point the album has settled into a decidedly wistful state.
While Stoesser has said that the name Twin Rains always sounded like a neat way to describe tears, there’s very little of that sadness overtly on display with debut Automatic Hand. As it coasts along, mellow lyrics matched with beats that somehow always manage to underline and punctuate the sparse emotion on show, there’s actually quite a bit to be pleased about.
Automatic Hand will be available on Nov. 18th.
Top Tracks: “Swim”; “Ghost Bird”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)