Twinsmith - Alligator Years (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Alligator Years (2015)

Saddle Creek Records

Omaha's Twinsmith are the next Vampire Weekend. In terms of retro-pop and a consistently eccentric yet catchy energy, well, these guys are bursting at the seams and prove to be one of 2015's biggest and most pleasant surprises. Their sophomore LP, Alligator Years is nothing short of infectious as it rattles off as a diverse, spellbinding bout of indie/pop/rock. It's a record that'll be in my player for quite some time because let's face it, we all could do with buoyantly playful pop jams soaring from our speakers as we're stuck in two-hour traffic every day.

Just to clarify, I'm not exaggerating on the Vampire Weekend comparison. The title track as well as the propulsive "Haunts" are charming examples of this. Following their eponymous 2013 record, Alligator Years finds itself pushing to a more dynamic pop sound with vocalist/guitarist Jordan Smith really channelling his inner Ezra Koenig, lyrically and delivery-wise. They've grown from the surfy haze of old, imbuing each track with something more than what's required to churn out bland summer pop medleys and run-of-the-mill melodic anthems. The band flourishes more as they come off more cheeky, confident yet exposed. But most importantly, they come off more calculating. From the indie-jangly "Is It Me" to the shimmery, twinkly "Said and Done", the record assumes a depth built in a new-wave sea of instrumentation. The guitars and synth-pop beats are sumptuous, to say the least and this is further seen on "Constant Love".

Even on the moody and contemplative slow-burns of tracks like "Carry On", there's something that's tough to describe. "Dust" also stands out in a similar vein as it unravels a la Depeche Mode's "Precious". As usual, there's a sense of longing and belonging in Twinsmith's music. The youthful exploration and unassuming desire to find answers permeate on every single song, reflecting the hopes, dreams, promises and fear we're all faced with. Smith's vocals shift from anxious to uncertain at key intervals to demonstrate this and with music done so cleanly and polished, it really sinks in with such aplomb. And with little to no filler. Especially on the slower tunes, it's all about making music that speaks volumes and is more cerebral. Even when things get awkward or a tad cheesy, there's no need to worry because these tracks set in as growers.

If at some point you've dug bands like Arctic Monkeys, As Tall As Lions, Cursive, Surfer Blood and We Are Scientists, then jump in. There are quite a few head-bobbing and foot-tapping moments awaiting. Twinsmith deliver a slow-glazed rock treatment that's fun, blissful, playful yet tangible. In terms of transportive indie ballads, you won't get a band as concrete as this unless you're looking to Ezra Koenig and posse. Twinsmith echo this style with a refreshingly modern treatment through explosions of sound barrelling around beautiful moments of serenity. To stack things up, this four-piece perfectly display their innate ability to create massive walls of pop that leave you begging for more. All the while, being substantially different and overall, a step ahead of their peers.