Bull City Records; April 13
A year after the release show for its first single, Case Sensitive (Sierra Shell on vocals, bass, and keys; Chesley Kalnen on guitar; and Mary Koenig on drums and vocals) has returned with a studio record, the Twin EP, which demonstrates an expansion of its darkly melodic sound.
Case Sensitive seems to have recorded most of the songs on Twin with the logic that Lou Reed followed: “cymbals eat guitars.” That is, they keep the crash and ride to a minimum, leaving plenty of room for the vocals and guitar to resound. “Count Your Blessings” opens with guitar and toms that sound like they are emanating from the depths of a cavern. These resonant tones are strikingly juxtaposed with Shell’s clear, dry lead vocals. “Six Feet” is defined by snarling, pitch-perfect singing and doomy guitars clouded by cobwebs and sludge.
The record takes a sudden turn with “Diet Coquette,” a kind of respite from the punchier rock songs. It’s painted in shades of night by a simple succession of synth chords and wistful vocals. While the languorous air seems to owe something to eighties ethereal wave, it also bears resemblance to the chart-topping pop of Lana Del Rey, with melodramatically glamorous lines like, “I want a fabulous decline.” After this cool repose, Twin’s angular atmosphere returns, first on “Dirty Habit,” led by a guitar riff distantly resembling Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” and then on “Can You Stand It,” whose plodding tempo does nothing to reduce the energy conjured by Shell’s tuneful growling.
Twin demonstrates how cohesive a sound Case Sensitive has in mind—one defined, as stated in its Bandcamp bio, as “eerie and ethereal.” But the moments when the carefully constructed aesthetic slightly breaks are some of the most exciting, like when Shell ironically sings, “count your blessings, count your money” on “Count Your Blessings,” or when “Can You Stand It” suddenly modulates from its ominous minor mode to a major key. Despite the branding benefits of consistency, it would be exciting to see Case Sensitive’s songwriting loosen into something more unpredictable and idiosyncratic.
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