Two by Owls (Album)

9 April, 2014 in Music Reviews



Post-hardcore legends Tim and Mike Kinsella return for album number ‘Two’and once again tap into their fans’ state of mind

Owls Twon emo circles, the mere mention of the name Kinsella is enough to see eyes widen and the pitch of voices increase to a level normally reserved for discovering that your bank balance is followed by three additional zeros. With brothers Tim and Mike having contributed to the hugely loved Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc and American Football, they inspire an affection to outlast most relationships.

Owls released their self-titled debut album after those three bands had gained prominence, ironically a jazzier piece than the work of Cap’n Jazz, and fans have been waiting 13 years for the follow-up. Expectations are high.

Owls set a healthy precedent for the engaging opener, with the challenging melodic structure of the delectably named What Whorse You Wrote Id On grabbing the attention immediately. Four Works Of Art is a slow-burner in the way that Friday from Sunny Day Real Estate’s Pink Album was, but with none of the claustrophobia that festered on that recording.

Though SDRE are apt as a point of reference there are also nods to some of the finer qualities of the Kinsellas’ previous work. The weaving guitar harmonies of This Must Be How and Why Oh Why… recall Joan Of Arc’s first two records, while Oh No, Don’t and A Drop Of Blood come across as a contained version of Cap’n Jazz’s frenetic approach.

13 years is a long time for any group to position themselves between recordings, with the risk that the original magic may be lost being something to plague the mind of fans. Where Two succeeds is in not trying to reprise the approach of its predecessor. Instead it sounds exactly as it should; the same musicians, but just a little older. Now they sound not thoughtful, as they question an eroding youth, but surly in the face of any suggestion that age may have dulled their rage.

The genius of Tim and Mike Kinsella has always been their ability to tap into the minds and emotional make-up of their fans, with each recording being something not just something to relate to but to exemplify how they feel. With Two they and their Owls cohorts once again provide fans with the perfect album at the perfect time.

Verdict: A fine slice of post-hardcore

Damien Girling

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