NICE PEOPLE: Remix-friendly Twin Sister put their tricks on the table.
When writers discuss Twin Sister's music, the word "dreamy" invariably pops up. It's not just a regurgitated cliché. The Long Island quintet spread this notion by sprinkling references to dreams liberally throughout their young discography. Their debut was Vampire with Dreaming Kids; their follow-up, Color Your Life (Infinite Best), is also rich in such motifs. The EP kicks off with the melancholic "The Other Side of Your Face," with singer Andrea Estella mourning, "Can't see the other side of your dream/But I know that it is real/I could try to change the way I think/If it makes you happy, then I will." After that, there's "Lady Daydream," the most fascinating track of Color Your Life's five. Among the gloriously cloudy guitar and effervescent keyboards, Estella urges, "If you can't find the sea/I will take you there." In her fragile, strangely accented purr, she recites, "It could all be a dream" the same way Dorothy repeated, "There's no place like home" in order to get the hell out of Oz. Then the calm sound of flowing water arrives, closing the track with unanswered questions. Was Estella (or her avatar) asleep, and did she wake up to something like rain or a running sink? Or did she finally lead "you" to her beloved sea? There's no telling, but Twin Sister's indie-pop oneirology provides some tantalizing riddles.
Drummer Bryan Ujuet points out that the band do not consciously obsess over the idea of dreams. "It's more fantasy than actual dreaming — dreaming in a broad sense," he says over the phone from Medford, Long Island. "We all love very immersive sounds." Twin Sister melt fragments of the loopiest of genres — trip-hop, shoegaze, psychedelia — into an artful swirl, but the sum still feels pointedly spare. Even on brighter turns like the discofied "All Around and Away We Go," their sound doesn't expand past the small-scale. Ujuet describes their approach as "sentimental" and "romantic," and those words are good indicators of the DIY charm rooted in Twin Sister's work.
In another endearing touch, the group (who come to T.T.'s July 13) have not only released their albums for free on their Web site but have also made each song's instrumental stems public. This allows remix-inclined listeners to manipulate any portions of the unmixed recording (guitars, percussion, keyboards, vocals, and effects) with Twin Sister's blessing. It's rare to find official releases broken down like this; it's even stranger coming from a band whose æsthetic emphasizes getting lost in the otherworldly. "It's our way of being transparent," Ujuet explains. "We're all people — nice people — so there's no point in creating a disguise to seem more enticing. The music should speak for itself."
Although he admits that some of the allure is lost when Twin Sister's tricks are put on the table, the chopped-up pieces of Color Your Life are compelling listens by themselves. Each stem track is composed largely of silence, so when any sound appears, your attention is piqued. Estella's voice still holds up a cappella, the guitars are moodier, and Ujuet's drums feel more raw. Hearing it all as pieces only adds to the atmosphere: every melody is fleeting, doing its damnedest to lodge itself in your memory before the dream ends. Ujuet adds that Twin Sister are currently developing material that will shift away from their current style. And if that's true, waking up will never have been so disheartening.
TWIN SISTER + BEAR IN HEAVEN + MOUNTAIN MAN | T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | July 13 at 9 pm | $10 | 617.492.0082 or www.ttthebears.com