Twin hidden are, according to their facebook page, "an indie-pop duet/quintet, based in Manchester and London simultaneously, owing it all to a complex system of tubes." Their debut EP Make Shift is a quirky collection of five tremendously unique tracks that I am finding very difficult to categorise. Not that this is a bad thing, but for the purposes of describing it for review, it makes my job a nuisance. Is it good? Yes...very! What is it? I'm not quite sure... Perhaps an odd blend Arcade Fire and The Divine Comedy.
The E.P. starts with the very catchy A Berry Bursts. This song is about as straight forward as this record gets. Sounding like a mixture between Arcade Fire and Bombay Bicycle Club, it is probably the most instantly accessible track, giving only the faintest hints of the kind of madness that is to follow. The next track Plastic roses starts as a simple acoustic folk track that grows over the course of its 4 minute life into lively, somewhat dark darker version of what was offered in the first song. Beautifully layered, great rhythms and some spectacular, ethereal vocals. Track 3, Paper unicorn, is a wildly theatrical number, that starts with my favourite lyric on the E.P. "I made you a paper unicorn, it's made from a horse, just by adding a horn." Just when you finally think that you have gotten a handle with what Twin Hidden are up to, things take a serious turn towards more bizarre territory with the help of some very frantic and excited piano and string sections. It's dramatic to say the least. This is followed by, my favourite song on the record, She Never Played Guitar, which is a return to slightly more familiar and "safe" territory. An unconventional folk pop song that Neil Hannon would be proud to call his own. The closing song, Unconditionally, is a return to the theatrics. Feels a little bit like the work of the Dresden Dolls.
This E.P. is not easy listening, at times, it can be bloody hard work. This is really not altogether a bad thing. There is an awful lot to this record. Once you have managed to find your way through the richly layered layered music, there is still the incredibly fascinating lyrics to start on...and believe me, there are some absolute gems in there that will have you scratching your head and rewinding just to make sure you heard it right.
I like these guys a lot. They have a great attitude, don't take themselves too seriously (their emails to the blog have been very entertaining, and the press pack they sent was one of the most bizarre I have ever seen. Complete with wonderfully crafted CD sleeve, postcard and handwritten story about a seagull...don't ask) and it shows in the quality of their work. The record is odd as a box of frogs, but is still rather enjoyable, even if it is a bit of a struggle to figure out at times. Wildly original, dramatic, well performed, very entertaining, and well written. Fantastic first effort, I am very excited to hear more from them. Great band, and ones to watch for the year!
Make Shift is available tomorrow from iTunes and Bandcamp.
Check out more from Twin Hidden on Facebook. Enjoy...or at least try your best not to run screaming from the madness...