The Thurlow sisters eponymous LP springs adroitly on from the saccharine murkiness of the Scarlet EP of 2011. All ten songs retain the heavily reverbed dynamism and seraphim vocals that brought the unconventionally titled pair to critical attention last year. Instead of the frustratingly infrequent single releases we can immerse ourselves in the shadowy philosophy of their collective mind and become deeply, intensely hypnotised by 2:54’s alluring hooks and ethereal subject matter.
Most importantly the essence of the record cannot be conveyed alone in the four or five minute singles – only on hearing the full forty-one minute body of work can the foreboding, heartbreaking desperation for the glories of love be fully uncovered. The depressive concept is nurtured by a droning guitar attack that caresses with recurrent reverb and subtle tremolo – forsaking frivolously simple riffs – and the beautiful voice of Collette Thurlow. Hers sits somewhere between the sedate Rachel Goswell (of Slowdive) and the indecipherable Bilinda Butcher (MBV), its nebulous qualities expressing the morose emotions of the sometimes unfathomable lyrics. Together, those voluptuous layers of rapturously melodic music deliver the listener from the square ordinary world to some dusky shapeless parallel universe, uncomfortably awash with seductive glances and the sweltering touches of shady strangers bereft of any meaningful relationship, as the repeated refrain of “I just wanna be close” follows in ‘You’re Early’.
2:54 have foraged for themselves a new niche in the crowded psychedelic/shoegaze/reverb indie spectrum: less visceral than The Breeders, more insistent than Slowdive, less playful than Warpaint, darker and more pensive than 2011’s lo-fi champions Best Coast. Although that is an achievement for the quartet that is to be commended, it was in no small part down to the accomplished mixing of celebrated producer/engineer Alan Moulder (MBV, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode). He, the champion of moodily scuzzy atmospheres, preserved 2:54’s sacred and rewarding intimacy by retaining the vocal’s immediacy at the top of the mix, and keeping the brooding undulating guitar haze underneath.
While 2:54 promise much for the future their debut is an album to be savoured and indulged.
By Barney Horner
Dance Yrself Clean