With formal piano and violin lessons under their belts, sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown drew on their love of The Ramones and The Donnas and in 2008 with Chelsea on guitar and Justine the drums, the Californian duo formed Summer Twins with bassist Michael Rey and Andy Moran on guitar and keyboards. The release of the self-titled debut album in 2012 set them on a blazing musical trail of garage-pop infusion that takes cues from 50s surf music and garage rock; Limbo is the sophomore release by the group under Burger Records.
The vintage vibe that Summer Twins are known for is certainly not lacking in Limbo but it’s the execution of their interest in many different styles that is lost in this record; sister Justine makes her song writing debut playing all instruments and singing on a track whose sound reminisces 90s grunge; Florence practically screams floral crushed velvet as she sings of the sights they experience; ‘I want to go back to Florence, where the streets are stone and narrow…statues, museums, rooftop cafés’. A simple tune with clean guitar riffs and a bright rhythm section that while cool and catchy, loses the lyrics.
I love the shakeup in style of Ouija; it’s mysterious and sexy, the quirky quiver of the girls’ voices as they harmonise through key changes is supported by an eerie lead guitar, whose melody enhances the themes of the track. Latest single Demons is childlike and bouncy and treads on a darker path; ‘just think of all the things that you would do and say if you weren’t afraid…’ Singing sharp lyrics of shutting up the demons when they sneak up on you, the brightness of voices masks the pensiveness of the themes in this song in a beautifully gripping way.
The second half of the album is strange; tracks suddenly become echoes of 50s style dance ballads and retro 60s Hawaiian hulas, that 90s grunge influence now dissipated and there’s an incoherence in the direction of the sound so much so it can hardly be considered an “interwoven” production of multiple influences. Yes, these are the styles of sound Summer Twins are known for but this isn’t merging different styles, this is writing an individual song in an individual style. This is a problem as the vocals become dull; the Browns aren’t going anywhere with their range, lyrics or emotion, it’s quite samey.
This is a group who have potential and many appealing traits especially given how they initially conduct their unique voices; but this is lost on what appears to be a lack of confidence in their statement of style; it all feels a little messy and it’s that aspect of their song writing that makes it hard to decide whether you like Limbo or not.