Band origin stories are usually littered with groups that weren’t great, were too young to be any good, were formed because of a stupid name or were necessary in the chain of experience. Conor Adams and Lar Kaye, the musicians behind All Tvvins had a more successful run than most.
Adams, along with his brother Neil and his friends from other bands like Abam and September Sun went on to form The Cast Of Cheers and release two albums of melodic looping post punk-inspired rock music. Kaye’s CV included Kelsey, Terrordactyl and Vimanas before Adebisi Shank’s wizard electronic math-rock took them to Japan, US and Europe and spawned three albums. After these bands the pair both tried out new shapes with Charmers and No Spill Blood respectively.
The back stories are worth mentioning because they inform the sound of IIVV. You can detect the dexterity of Kaye’s guitarwork throughout and Adams’ ability to gild a melody across a frenetic rhythm. Lewis Hedigan joins them as ably-suitable drummer. The more underground sensibilities of those previous bands are felt throughout the album, providing some bursts of imagination in what is a very solidly constructed and hugely enjoyable debut, from the Adebisi-esque wall of sound / guitar cranks on ‘Unbelievable’ to the indie-pop tautness of ‘These Four Words’.
llVV is what a modern rock record should be: full of imagination, drawing from the members’ pasts while adding textures of the ’80s that sounds anew when applied with better overall production: treated vocals, big drums, synth-pop and stadium rock.
Six of the album’s 10 songs will be familiar to most; the Aha-esque stadium rock of ‘Thank You’, the FIFA-featured glittering synth rock of ‘Darkest Ocean’, the earworm gallop of ‘Too Young To Live’, the cascading high-octane rock of ‘Resurrect Me’ included.
Production comes from several people: Jim Abbiss (Arcade Fire, Kasabian), Mark Rankin (Queens of the Stone Age, Bombay Bicycle Club), Matt Schwartz (Massive Attack) and Dan Grech-Marguerat (Lana Del Rey, Wolf Alice), but they all serve the song’s pristine sound.
The marimba-rock of ‘Book’ is a new highlight and the first appearance of those treated halo-like vocals and the band’s blistering low-end. ‘End Of The Day’ nods to Talking Heads’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’ in both rhythm and vocal line, ‘Too Much Silence’ addresses smalltown begrudgery with ’80s stadium rock fist-pumping histrionics. IIVV is by and large a positive and uplifting lyrical album. Only, ‘The Call’ veers to close to safety by sounding a bit too much like The Killers in execution.
All Tvvins’ debut is a resourceful release, filled to the brim with a deftly executed take on modern stadium rock and synth pop, that has the prospect to take hold of the ears of many more. All Tvvins are already on their way to being a great band, it just didn’t happen overnight.
All Tvvins – llVV tracklist
2. Thank You
3. End Of The Day
4. The Call
5. Too Young To Live
6. Darkest Ocean
7. These 4 Words
8. Too Much Silence
9. Resurrect Me