We’ve been waiting a while for this one. Around two years ago “Tvvins” (as they were originally monikered) emerged fully formed and playing larger stages than your usual musical start-up. But of course, this isn’t your usual musical start-up. Lar Kaye, of the sadly-now-disbanded Adebisi Shank, and Conor Adams, of the not-officially-disbanded Cast Of Cheers, have known each other for years and so this is what happened when they met in the middle, and took a left turn.
It’s well over a year since Thank You, All Tvvins‘ first single, was released to general acclaim and a Choice Music Prize nomination. As the wait for this album has lengthened so has the pressure to deliver mounted, particularly with a major label now backing the duo (Warner UK). Fortunately their debut record ‘IIVV’ delivers on most fronts and expectant fans can rest easy.
As to how that title’s pronounced, well, it’s anyone’s guess.
What strikes you first is the pure pop sensibility that runs through the whole record. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen their live shows or listened to the slew of singles released, although anyone who witnessed some of their earlier gigs in 2015 may be surprised by the lack of vocoder and other vocal effects, with one or two exceptions. ‘IIVV’ is an album full to the brim with potential, and actual singles. Lead off track Book sets out their stall early, the pleasing vocals of Adams sitting pretty on top of a looping bass line.
The aforementioned Thank You follows with the irresistible combined hook of the vocals and guitar/bass line. The amount of vocal effects are just right to give it a space-rock sound without seeming ridiculous. However the chorus feels more like a bridge, and this is something that crops up a number of times on the album. It’s not that every chorus has to be a hands-in-the-air affair, but it feels like there’s an obvious chorus that has been avoided deliberately.
Another example of this is Too Young To Live, which is, in many ways, a surprising single. Based around a fairly ordinary guitar riff, the whole song plods along repetitively until the final third and then it all kicks up a notch. This is perhaps nitpicking, as many of the songs, particularly These 4 Words and Unbelievable have exactly the chorus you hoped for on the dance floor.
All Tvvins are not afraid to wear their collective influences on their sleeves – End Of The Day could have been a Talking Heads song until it gets to its electro-pop chorus; The Call has the driving beat and bass so beloved of, among others, Springsteen and The Killers.
There are obviously some benefits to being on a major label too, such as having fairly flawless production throughout and getting one of your songs, Darkest Ocean, on the FIFA 2016 soundtrack.
Two of the album’s strongest tracks are saved for the end. Resurrect Me is one of the most immediately pleasing melodies on the album, driving relentlessly towards the ear-worm chorus. This is followed by Unbelievable, which finally sees Lar let out of his cage for some trademark “alien-guitar” and features life-affirming lyrics such as “It’s unbelievable that we’re here at all / it’s a miracle that the body does what the body knows”.
It’s a suitably upbeat tone to end a very upbeat and a very economical album (ten songs coming in at under 35 minutes). No filler, all killer. Well done lads.