In the three years since their first EP, Rough Gold, Twin River have undergone some significant changes. The first is a new-and-improved lineup: adding Malcolm Jack, Rebecca Law Gray, and Dustin John Bromley to the guitar-and-vocals twosome of Courtney Ewan Bromley and Andy Bishop. The second is an almost complete genre overhaul. Though some tracks hearken back to the muted, twangy, country-folk guitars of their first release, Twin River have approached full-length Should the Light Go Out from a very different angle, incorporating wiggly atmospheric synths and fast-paced pop-rock with occasional doo-wop vocals and surf rock guitars.
As Ewan Bromley told the Georgia Straight, “I don’t really listen to a lot of slow, sad stuff anymore. It’s more fun to play in a synth-y rock band, and more fun to listen to.” This literal change of pace is the most immediate difference for past listeners, as opener “Bend to Break” jumps into an upbeat drum and vocal combo that doesn’t quit until the final chords.
This speed is perhaps a bit ambitious for the traditionally slow-moving group; Ewan Bromley seems to have trouble keeping up with the whiplash tempo of “Bend to Break,” leaving the song feeling more anxious than worthy of a thrashy dance floor. These tempo issues recur throughout the album, likely tied to the heavy-handed use of reverb, making the vocals and instruments feel like they’re lagging behind.
This suggests that Twin River might be best served focusing on the strength of their synth tones before cranking up the speed dial. The strongest tracks, “He’s Not Real and He Ain’t Coming Back,” “Golden Man,” and “Secret in a Séance,” allow Gray’s synth work and the choice reverb on Ewan Bromley’s vocals to create some particularly moody magic.
Still, the title question begs to be answered: Should Twin River’s light go out, or has this debut LP given us reason to ask for more? Though the album may have fallen short of its genre-expanding intentions, it must be taken as an offering from a talented group playing around with new sounds. Twin River clearly aren’t afraid of a little exploration and reworking, and as they keep trying new things and having fun, they will likely be back soon with a more polished and focused release. If the light were to go out now, it would certainly be too soon.