Over the past year 2:54 -sister duo Colette and Hannah Thurlow – have established themselves as one of 2012’s most important breakthrough UK bands. Following their signing to Fat Possum in the US last week, with the announcement of their eponymous debut album they’re preparing to unveil the writing and recording work that’s occupied much of their time since the band’s inception, and fans of their unique and enveloping sound should prepare to have their expectations obliterated.
Occupying a low-lit, vivid space, they unite a distinct concoction of ideas and influences that taps a rock and punk lineage notoriously anchored by the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. However, their sound neatly neighbours the darker, atmospheric reaches of today’s R’n’B finest, as well as timeless walls of sound. The fact 2:54 have picked up fans from all the above worlds and more is testament not only to their sophisticated and nuanced tastes, but just how compelling a proposition the music they make is. Yet it’s only now, with this their first full-length offering that the power of what they do will be revealed for all to see.
The Thurlow sisters taught themselves to play guitar as teenagers, but it wasn’t until the closing moments of 2010 that the very first lo-fi 2:54 home demos leaked onto the web, prompting a flurry of critical acclaim that’s only ever grown with the band. They became the act that all the best bands around wanted on the road with them, touring with everyone from Warpaint and Wild Beasts to Melissa Auf De Maur, Yuck, The Maccabees and most recently, The Big Pink. Their debut limited seven-inch ‘On A Wire’ whetted critics appetites, consolidating plaudits that have now reached everywhere from revered US critics like Pitchfork, SPIN, Fader, Gorilla Versus Bear and Stereogum, to UK bibles like NME, Q magazine, Kerrang, and onto the radars of broadsheet press like The Guardian, The Times and The Independent. Signing to Fiction (The Cure, Crystal Castles etc) mid last year, the ‘Scarlet‘ EP gave the world the first taste of the forthcoming long-player with its title track, plus three hard-hitting B-sides. Its hazy, leviathan sound was hypnotically hooky, feeling both alien and familiar at the same time. The Pitchfork premiere of their latest single ‘You’re Early‘ last week saw 10 thousand hits in 24 hours – simultaneously announcing a US signing to Fat Possum (Spiritualized, Wavves, Yuck etc)- and displaying a more groove-focused side to the band, a brazenly infectious stormer of a song.
Recorded mostly by Mercury-winning producer Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey etc), and all mixed by the legendary Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine In Nails etc), their debut album collects together a cohesive and captivating selection of highlights from their already burgeoning catalogue. The 10 songs that together make up ‘2:54’ are ripe with danger and beauty. This is a record that thrums with life, signalled immediately with the gale-force opener, ‘Revolving‘,a real bittersweet blizzard. From then on the sisters Thurlow proceed to mine their own distinctive brand of haunted, freaked grooves and cloud-bursting melody, channelling love, loss and longing to spellbinding effect. This is an album with truly no filler. First spin will leave the propulsive, woozy thrust of ‘Easy Undercover‘s refrains ringing in heads, as will the duelling guitars and surging, urgent cry of ‘Sugar‘s’ dance floor rhythms. The smouldering solemnity of ‘Circuitry‘ neighbours the delicate, scorched beauty of ‘Watcher‘ with album closer ‘Creeping‘, realised here in magnificent and malevolent new form that few will be prepared for.
Over the course of its 10 tracks it becomes clear that this is a rarefied, captivating affair, a beautifully sustained exercise in mood and tension that almost feels in a league and scene of its own. It’s a bewitching snapshot of 2:54 thus far and also a glimpse of the heady future that awaits them.
02. You’re Early
03. Easy Undercover
04. A Salute
(Write Up: Fat Possum Records)