The Twistettes’ second album A Strange Play is not as good as their debut Jilt The Jive two years ago.
The problems are there from the first track ‘A Captain’s Kiss’ with the line, “One by one we sing along and one by one we learn that song and one by one we teach our sons to one by one go buy some fun,” which is repeated three times. The idea – that we are individually responsible for being influenced by the messages in the media and perpetuating the patriarchy through the way we raise our male children – is not necessarily wrong, it’s just heavy-handed and oddly phrased.
Compared to their stand out tracks from Jilt The Jive, there’s not an ‘I Think Not’ or ‘Suck It! Fake It!’ here – mainly because the humour and frankly the energy seems to have dissolved somewhere along the line. Instead Glasgow-based sisters Jo and Nicky D’arc seem depressed that the casual sexism they criticised on their last album is still very much alive and well. “It’s up to me, sing for me baby sing for me,” goes a line from ‘On The Table’ and it certainly feels like the sisters have put too much pressure on themselves to make an album that has ‘something to say’, without having taken the necessary time to work out exactly what that might be. The whole album feels oddly unfinished – both in the incredibly sparse instrumentals and the vague lack-of-a-coherent-message in the majority of the songs. In ‘State of Affairs’ is the line, “I’m listening to a crowd as they’re trying to defend doing nothing as it won’t achieve a thing, oh what a thought,” which at least reveals one of the albums redeamable qualities – the fact that it exists at all.
But the whole thing is deeply flawed. It’s also harder to dance to; with almost every track having a break in it where Jo sings alone, straining her voice to articulate sentiments that aren’t likely to embolden her listeners. While the first track on their debut album Jilt The Jive, ‘I Think Not’, was a crowd-pleasing feminist rock anthem about refusing to dance for or please unwanted admirers, there isn’t a song here with a similar hook. The closest we get is ‘Hate Hate’ – possibly the best song on the album despite being the lead single’s B-side – but even then it lacks a compelling story. It’s fine to “Hate, hate” – that is to stand up against negativity and hatred – but the ‘how’ doesn’t really seem to be there. While Jo might sing; “Hate is a negative, switch it for some action,” the form of this action isn’t specified.
Overall, fans are sure to be slightly disappointed, which is a damn shame. Since Jilt The Jive dropped The Twistettes have been one of the best of the new riot grrrl style bands on the scene, but A Strange Play just isn’t the call to action that it wants to be.
Words: Ana Hine
The Twistettes launched their second album A Strange Play at Stereo on Renfield Lane in Glasgow on Friday 14th September. It’s available to buy here – thetwistettes.bandcamp.com/album/a-strange-play-2