Fraternal Twin Searches for a Signal on “Cloudsong” EP

By Jarrod Sage & Sarah Levin

After long hibernation, New York’s Fraternal Twin comes out of the woodwork with four jangling dreamscapes that trace languid trails between brooding and meditative on their newest EP Cloudsong. From the heady longing that pervades “Reaper” to the title track’s circumscription of pensive reflections, Cloudsong brings a lot to the table without getting oversaturated with dream pop’s typical sensibilities. 

Track 01 – Words

In an age where songs featuring soft, psychedelic guitar lines are mostly just building material for playlists with titles like “chill kickback indie mix” or “shower lol,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult for artists associated with that sound to establish themselves as more than just white noise. Musicians wanting to avoid relegation to a slot between Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” and “Locket” by Crumb usually just unmoor from the sound altogether.
However, on this EP, Fraternal Twin commits to dreamy guitar tones and leverages the sound as a backdrop for a more meaningful performance. “Words” opens the project with a welcome departure from the typical comfort of vibey psych-rock without sacrificing any of the genre’s stylings. It’s not uncomfortable per se, but it’s something that feels just peculiar enough to keep your attention – a certain coldness in the mix that defies the typical warmth in guitar tones from other beachy, psychedelic projects like Turnover’s Good Nature or Sugar Candy Mountain’s 666. This coldness persists throughout the project, but as you move through the four songs it gradually thaws until you’ve suddenly reached the final track, the ice has given way, and you’re wrapped in a tone that hits like finally leaving your jacket behind on spring’s first day. “Words” is the very necessary opener for this, ensuring complex themes and emotions within the lyrics that don’t get lost in glitter and reverb.

Track 02 – Afterlife

Earlier in the day when I wrote this, I was listening to “Afterlife” while biking to school. As it buzzed in my ears, a firetruck blared past the crosswalks up ahead. It took me a moment before realizing the Doppler shift of distant sirens was outside my headphones and not just a part of the mix – there’s a drawl in the dreamy guitar slides that captures the same sense of something fast approaching and whooshing through, something that passes you by as quick as it came. And yet, the sound somehow still hovers longer on the latter half.

“Afterlife” lets you slip into its sound more than “Words,” which makes the sense of longing in Tom Christie’s vocals all the more poignant. Seductive and sedating, its dreamlike state mirrors the comforting haze of delusion. As I listen to this project, I find that much of the lyrical substance orbits ideas like the anxiety of wishing to know and the discomfort in actually understanding. Until the last minute, though, it feels like maybe you can just simmer in the languor of longing, ignorant of the world outside your headphones and its passing sirens. In contrast, the final minute of “Afterlife” is explosive – you don’t even realize until it’s already igniting in riffs and percussion that evoke cuts from Palm’s Rock Island: there’s a powder keg of brooding tension that’s been building in the slow yearning and saudade that characterizes the EP up until this point.

In a way, it feels like a sort of reckoning.  

Track 03 – Reaper

“Reaper” showcases a similar vibe to “Cloudsong,” with a repetitive guitar riff backed by moody synths. However, this song deals with a new type of emotional language – a more existential tune. The track perfectly captures the essence of late night driving and reflection.

“In the end nobody knows / 

I seek the thought to keep it out of sight /

Oh, will you take a drive with me?” 

The exiting guitar melody encapsulates conversation between bass and guitar, leading to the perfect potion of shoegazesque magic. The lyrics distinctly remind me of early MGMT, with strange themes fitting in like a puzzle piece to fit the structure of the song. 

“Oh will somebody come to take me apart / 

Before they bring me back into the dark / 

Reaper, I wonder /

Reaper, why don’t you speak up?”

A reaper being the personification of death, this song battles with the idea of mortality and anguish. The darkness forms a tone that engages the listener, while also oddly calming the atmosphere around the headphones. This juxtaposition of saddening language mixed with relaxing melodies is exactly what’s needed for a delightful, dreamy tune. With clear production and a unique sound, they use their lyricism in a way that invites listeners to simply relax. “Reaper” is a hazy hue of subdued elements that washes away the foggy atmosphere. It captures the soul of this EP with its longing questions and earnest lyricism. I’m glad that bedroom pop is not a dying genre, with the latest from Fraternal Twin proving to be a promising point of that. 

Track 04 – Cloudsong

Title track “Cloudsong” closes with an eclectic synth that pierces the EP straight into focus. The lyrics serve as a prose for cloud sighting, matching the calming vibe of its echoing rhythmic pace. The slow tempo mixing with the depth of the lyricism curates a musical climate that elevates any emotion you’re already in prior to listening. The lyrics shape the song at the beginning, similarly to how clouds shape the sky. 

“It was curling into view /

And I was wrong /

I couldn’t place the shape of it /

Then it was gone.”

Synonymous with Beach House and Mazzy Star, Fraternal Twin showcases their artistic expression through this riveting outro track.  As the song progresses, Fraternal Twin internalizes the connection between cloud watching and finding oneself. The steady drum beat mixing with the heavy reverb salutes itself to these changing lyrics which examine perception as a whole. Something about this song portrays a safe feeling. A feeling of conscious relatability that is fearful to admit.

“If nothing seems the way it is /

Then who will see me out here?”

There is something about music that speaks for the unspoken, that expresses for the expressionless. “Cloudsong” is the song to put on when you need to walk off your own feelings. It is the song to put on when you need to clean your apartment on a Sunday afternoon after a crazy weekend. It is the song to put on when you need to focus on nothing but a piece of art, and it is just that, a piece of art. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 7th, 2022. | The full “Cloudsong” EP by Fraternal Twin releases November 11th for digital purchase and streaming. In the meantime, check out their latest music video, Spotify, or Instagram for more!

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