Thursday, 14 June 2012

2:54 - 2:54


New kids on the block 2:54 seem to have manipulated the status quo of recording artist's rise to becoming acknowledged. Larry Fitzmaurice (of P4K) has been on the duo's case for the past year, with Fat Possum snapping them up after one solid single release, the dissonant punk track 'On A Wire', released by House Anxiety in early 2011. They are somewhat of a band without a bio. Veteran producer and Alan Moulder mixes the entire album, while producing the lead single 'Creeping' at the back end of the album. The majority of production is left with Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea). Now I've listened to this album, many times. It doesn't take NME or Q magazine to force feed me a 'new age' of 'rocknroll'. The sound is there for the listening, go ahead and listen, make the comparisons to punk all you like, but you would be wrong. 2:54 may take their name from a Melvins song timeline, but they are far from punk and stoner rock as my new Tommy Hilfiger shirt is to expensive. Nonetheless, it's a good quality shirt, and 2:54 are a quality band who have all the elegance and ego needed to storm the live circuit.

On first impression, 2:54 are dusty, not ready, lacking in composure for their debut album. It takes time for the dust to settle and a world of murky atmospheres to appear in the dark sky of blood, sweat and tears. 'Revolving' lays the foundations with its guitar layers and new age vocals. You can feel the energy transmitted from the duo. Reverb has been used accordingly and the drumming standout between the shoegaze drones and Cocteau Twins-esque guitar layers. Strange, because Alan Moulder never produced Cocteau Twins, yet he produced Curve, Ride, Lush, My Bloody Valentine... I think you get it.

'You're Early' brings nothing new to the table. I hate to say it, but 2:54 seem to be a one trick pony. The chord progressions are predictable and the vocals sound extremely off-putting. Effects cannot cure a bad voice, and the singing female pair cannot pretend to have good voices when they sound like a bad Warpaint. That was harsh of me, I am sorry, I just do not take kindly to lazy vocals. 'Easy Undercover' stretches their capabilities with a tricky structure and excelling left sided distorted guitar drones. The track features another monotonous Centre piece drone, which gradually becomes annoying. The right sided guitar is relaxing and stays relative to the tracks mood.

Funnily enough, 2:54's self titled album improves and improves. 'A Salute' marks a clear vocal improvement. Something quite noticeable about this album is the length of the tracks. We have ten tracks which total 41 minutes, with eight of those tracks between four to five minutes long each. Making this album sporadic and open. A Salute is one of these four/five minute tracks and boy can I feel it. Theres a point when too little becomes too much, and 2:54 sure strike out with the unnecessary segments of nothingness. The more the merrier right? Not when you have a monotonous electric guitar playing the same... Thing... Every... Time. It takes the previously released 'Scarlet' to ignite this album. Arguably better live, Scarlet is the track that grabs the listener by the balls. I was lucky enough to see 2:54 play live in my home city, Leicester, in 2011. At Summer Sundae's Last.fm stage, with a spectacular line-up deep in the obscurity section of Leicester's very own eclectic music festival. Scarlet is indeed loud and in your face. The vocals are outstanding on this studio recording, with the layered vocals creating an eerie atmosphere between all the hectic guitars and spacious drumming.

'Sugar' returns to the old format of slow guitars, moments of nothing, and vocals which sound raw and distracting in a track of reverberation. I am finding it difficult to appreciate this track, because it doesn't show me anything other than how repetitive 2:54 can be. Another word that is at the tip of my tongue can be applied to the female duo themselves, and I think this leaks out into the music... Especially with the sceptical 'Circuitry'. Comparisons to The XX have been made, but those people making that comparison can piss off. Circuitry has moments of genius in production. Guitars are fresh and have all the distortion and reverb at their disposal to manipulate a simple sound, into an outstanding shoegaze drone. Oh, and... The word at my tongue is pretentious.

Is this music forced? I think so. Some artists spend so long experimenting with what genre they want to divulge into, that they forget the most important ingredient, originality. I think that 2:54 have rushed into this debut album, and released something way below their personnel expectations. The final three tracks are completely different in style to the previous seven. 'Watcher' takes on a more psychedelic sound, and has mature vocals and delicious verse segments and an even better chorus which is surprisingly clear and laid back. 'Ride' is powerful and heavy with guitar notations becoming the focus. It raises questions on whether or not this is actually good, or unstrung material. It paves the way for the magnetic and the longest track, 'Creeping'. Childlike vocals and dreamy guitar riffs make up the most of Creeping, but what lies underneath is magical and spectacular. The composition is beautifully crafted and every instrument plays its part perfectly, yes, perfectly. The distorted introduction works it's magic, as the bass thumps hard and Colette Thurlow delivers her most in depth vocal to date.

2:54's self titled album has shown me that music can be manipulating, terrible, amazing and honest in one giant 40 minute gulp. Pro's and con's are needed for the ever improving musician, and 2:54 have their con's firmly in their faces. I enjoy Creeping, and I enjoy Revolving. Many tracks here are actually pretty damn good, with excellent structures and memorable moments. It's these few tracks of unoriginality and softness that crash 2:54's debut album. And that is what this is, it's a debut album. They can be forgiven for including useless tracks like You're Early. The production is as good as it can be, and Alan Moulder cannot help how ill-equipped the duo are. I've seen 2:54 live, and I can tell you now that their live performance is much better than these studio recordings. I think its mainly down to the raw instrumentals and added brilliance by Joel Porter on bass. The girls need to take a step back, listen to themselves and think about what they actually want to do with their second album, because if it includes that monotonous guitar, then they will hear about it. Their music is over here, in the better than average, decent section of music. And the girls are over there in the egotistic, pretentious, ahead of themselves world of candy. Where money grows on trees and terrorism is reality, not a government concept.
~Eddie

6.9

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