Lower Dens - Twin Hand Movement

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-07-19

Combining the woozy, breathy ambiance of Hope Sandoval or Cowboy Junkies with post-punk dynamics, this album from Jana Hunter's band sounds something like a delightfully chilled Joy Division. On tracks such as the opening 'Blue and Silver' and the excellent, twisting instrumental 'Holy Water' driving momentum is provided by the bass and drums while repetitive guitar figures slowly expand to fill the space, but the music progresses at a more dreamy pace than Joy Division's and the landscape it exists in is dusty and sun-dappled rather than gray and austere. Lower Dens also source early Cure and early Souixsie & the Banshees on the atmospheric 'Plastic and Power', again to great effect.

Elsewhere, 'A Dog's Dick' has an interesting title but a fairly boring Phil Spector meets garage rock sound. This does mean it's very 'now', however, as is the dream pop of songs such as the seductively hazy 'I Get Nervous', which is like a hay-chewing version of The Passions' 'I'm in Love with a German Film Star'. It's one of the album's standout tracks, as is the gorgeous, laconic 'Truss Me', which sounds like an outtake from Mazzy Star's Among My Swan with Antony Hegarty on vocals. Closing track 'Two Cocks Waving Wildly at Each Other Across a Vast Open Space, a Dark Icy Tundra' (which makes me wonder if Jana Hunter has been hanging out in the toilets of any Leeds' gay venues) is a glittering, sensitive homage to Neu! with some alt-country guitar twang thrown in to separate it from the current crop of slavish Neu!-indebted songs.

If there is a complaint to be made of Twin Hand Movement it's that it feels pretty but insubstantial. Its reference points are spot on and expertly, inventively blended. However, many of its best moments feel a little too slight and brief to really luxuriate in. On the other hand, in may just be that this is an album that needs repeat listens before it fully reveals the extent of its charms. If so, that's no real problem - Twin Hand Movement is an album you'll be happy to return to.

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