Iowa’s very own princes of guitar pop are back with another slab of black vinyl densely grooved with their trademark harmonies and chugging guitars.
Their 2014 album Tomboys on Parade was a smart collection of guitar pop that I described in my Little Village review as being a “survey of power pop,” as it had songs ranging in influence from BritPop and British Invasion to American pop rock.
This time around TWINS entered the studio with a more singular idea of sound. In a conversation with guitarist and vocalist Joel Sires, he said, “I think power pop kind of took a backseat on this record. It’s just more of an American Rock ‘n’ Roll sound — à la The Replacements.”
While I’m still hearing a little Oranges & Lemons-era XTC on this summer’s Square America — in the bubbling percussive guitars and harmonies of “Take That Gurl” and the bright chiming guitars in “Mary’s Sister Margaret”—TWINS have handed in their power pop membership card for an honest-to-goodness guitar rock album. I don’t hear the drunken slop of The ‘Mats, but certainly lots more KISS and Cheap Trick riffage all over the place — more in line with their driving live sound.
Record Release Party
The Mill — Friday, July 1 at 9 p.m. ($8)
The album, which drops July 1, kicks off with “Hot Stepper,” which owes much of it’s guitar tone to KISS’s horny 1974 anthem “Strutter.” I love the dirty sax solo in it (played by Kyle Gowin of Christopher the Conquered’s band) — it really throws it over the top. Sires explains, “This was one of the first albums we’ve made where we used our own amps the whole time and basically our own guitars the whole time too.”
On Square America, TWINS are refining their sound — a result of the band maturing. Beyond that, this is the bratty bar band that still can’t help but dabble in the themes of young, hormone-addled lust — the thrill of the chase, the bummer kiss offs, the wistful attractions. Blasting power chords, sex and an eternal summer break, delivered by a band at the peak of their rock and roll powers. Stand and be counted among the devoted: TWINS are back!
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 201.