Sweet Nothings from Danger Twins
Not a cloud in sight, no trace of bad moods or self-doubt. Every song is dancing down a sunny boardwalk and jumping into a swimming pool. Or strutting down a high-school hallway. I was with a friend trying to describe this album, and found myself repeating “coffee and happiness – coffee and happiness” and whatever that all means, I do hope to discuss the professional quality of the self-titled ‘Danger Twins.’ The breakout album that defined them as indie pop’s new favourite candy. This collection, ‘Danger Twins’ by Danger Twins, so well produced that each track could have been on TV (‘Vampire Diaries’, and ‘Shameless’ to name a few series featuring this indie duo from Nashville).
It’s hard to tell if Danger Twins are deeply shallow or a pair of zen masters; each song about the present moment, like gold fish on a good day, but only on a good day. In ‘Like What you See’ the lyrics “I think you’re gonna like what you see, I think you’re gonna like how it feels,” repeat for about two minutes of a funky riff. And on ‘Show of hands,’ there’s even more bouncy feelings, smacking your ass towards the sunshine and having a good time. I can see why Danger Twins are popular; they’re professional cheer-up artists.
My biggest question, listening through the LP, is Where’s all the danger? Expectedly by the time ‘I feel good today’ comes on, I’m expecting the track’s title to repeat amid a fun arrangement of horns, guitar strings, do-do-doos, and drum-rum-beat machines. This song and the others have the lyrical simplicity of house music, or a Vengaboys classic, only the songs are too short and congenial for me to catch their catchiness. For better and worse, Danger Twins are structurally fireworks: it’s a flash, bang, and just when it’s taken some ill-defined shape in the sky, it’s over. Stylistically their layer cake, vanilla on vanilla, with zero sex appeal from either voice.
‘Best day’ Pulls you into this harmless adventure, track 1 running on skate shoes, not towards or from anything, just running casually and laughing and posing for Instagram with your dog(s). This song invites you to have the best day! Which sets the tone for the LP; every song an anthem for the best day of your life. Every song. All of them. If ‘Best Day’ was a Snapchat filter, it would be the sun wearing sunglasses holding an ice-cream cone with three scoops that you melt by sticking out your tongue. And the perfectly mixed ‘Revolution’ is about as urbane and revolutionary as a certain Pepsi commercial making headlines for its lack of substance and tone-deaf politics. It’s a few aspects of rock guitars, organs and hip-hop beats, cleaned thoroughly with bleach. Like ‘Best Day’ ‘Revolution’ invites you to start a revolution, instructions sold separately.
If I seem critical of Danger Twins’ ‘Danger Twins,’ it’s because, one, I’m a critic, and two, I can tell these two musicians are talented folk with good ears for what pleases, and I think they can do better. Repetitive maybe, but aim for Kylie Minogue, not Chumbawamba. From what I’ve read, they enjoy being in the studio, working and producing as much new music as they can, which is important if they want to hold their fans’ attention longer than a binge season of ‘Orange is the New Black.’ I can see where the struggle for immediate success might compromise quantity over quality.
Ooh-yea-yeahs, do-do-doos, and whistling are the magic ingredients lead singer Amy Stroup grants us, blessing continuity among this collection of jingles; with ‘Show of Hands’ voted most likely to become an iPod commercial, from The Ting Tings’ era of iPod commercials. Not sure how many generations ago that was, but what’s interesting is how this song and every other track on ‘Danger Twins’ is camera ready, with production so perfect and lyrics so vague that it’s difficult not to relate and impossible to offend, like that inspirational poster we all need sometimes… hang in there baby.
Intentional or not, each track captures the feeling of someone trying to sell a new data plan. Maybe it’s because this kind of white-sugar indie pop-rock is so well suited to corporate and prime-time, that I recoil and protect my pockets, unable to enjoy the empty calories. But without any fire or vulnerability, there’s nothing here to make me feel otherwise. And whether Danger Twins are making a musical product, or pieces of music, they’re set to brand a few more official soundtracks before they’re done.
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