2:54 The Other I

2:54 The Other I

2:54’s ‘Scarlet’ EP instantly caught my attention a couple of years ago, prompting me to sign up for their 2012 Deaf Institute gig. The London based alternative rock band’s self titled debut long player shortly followed, and didn’t disappoint – their broody, understated, infectious melodies hit all the right spots. Sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow front the four-piece, having previous formed a punk band The Vulgarians. They’ve tamed their sound somewhat, since, drawing their influences from the 80’s and 90’s.

In 2012, they were compared to Curve and Garbage, as well as Warpaint (who they toured with). The band’s name is the drumming time signature of the Melvins tune ‘A History Of Bad Men’ – obviously an influence and inspiration. Maybe the song title has relevance? In any case, the beats here have moved closer in the direction of the Melvins, taking centre-stage on numerous occasions. Opening tune and single ‘Orion’ draws comparisons to Esben and The Witch with a slow dramatic pounding beat over light synths and minimal, reverb-laden guitar. The vocal emerges – Colette’s familiar elite selection of notes are delivered in an assertive manor during the verses, and are more lighthearted in the uplifting choruses.

Hannah’s icy, intriguing guitar solo’s take over to steal the limelight when the drummer or singer take a step back. ‘Blindfold’ see’s the introduction of keys, after another drum intro, with the bassist remaining aloof (but none the less important). ‘In The Mirror’ starts with soft Americana guitar chords, comparable to the likes of Widowspeak, giving Colette a chance to display her haunting vocal talents before the beat kicks in.

They’re understated and effortlessly cool – early listens impress and leave you wanting more. Repeated plays prove rewarding and are necessary to take in the subtle moments that are carefully orchestrated in the arrangement. Their sound doesn’t differ greatly from track to track but at the same time the album is rich in ideas, reminding me of Interpol in that respect.

‘No Better Prize’ is a highlight for me – starting with that shimmering guitar and joined by another effective drum beat. It builds ever so slightly and then pauses before a glimpse of their heavier side… and then it almost stops completely before they start the process again. Heavy reverb vocals in the chorus contrast perfectly with a rasping guitar/cymbal combination, and a delicate rhythm guitar calms things down, drawing it to a conclusion.

They pull you from exhilarated, to serene, to head-nodding contentment multiple times within each tune. This is definitely an album experience, best absorbed by setting aside 51 minutes with a good pair of cans.

An interlude entitled ‘Tender Shoots’ lightens the mood in a eerie manor with layered vocals over a ‘Twin Peaks’ chord… ‘The Monaco’ follows with a plodding, optimistic and cheery beat. The vocal sounds upbeat to follow suit, but the lyrics remain on the dark side – “The ground beneath my feet swallowed me whole”. It fades to just Colette and a high pitched guitar riff, bathed in reverb, sending a shiver down the spine. They gradually pick themselves up again before the tune stops… and then ‘Crest’ chugs to live with heavy drumming and guitar; dragging you out from reflective bliss.

‘Pyro’ would sit nicely on their debut album, which arguably contains more memorable riffs – but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is a more successful album. Their skills have progressed and never fail to impress, but they still manage to appear effortless and are incredibly easy to listen to… like having a great conversation and not noticing how much time has passed. Co-producer and mixer James Rutledge, who has worked with the likes of Radiohead and Fever Ray, has done a fine job here.

‘Glory Days’ is calming in nature – stripped back to it’s bare bones with a repetitive backing vocal providing the hook. The album concludes with ‘Raptor’… again, by no accident, we’re in just the right mood for the slow beginnings of this tune, and then the vocal builds tension. A simple pounding drumbeat appears and disappears, acting like a bookend along with the albums haunting introduction. It breaks down to a jam that again builds subtly, until it halts, leaving questions unanswered.


‘The Other I’ is released through Bella Union on November 10th

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November Tour Dates:

19th – St. Pancras Old Church, London

20th – The Harley, Sheffield

21st – The Broadcast, Glasgow

22nd –  Soup Kitchen, Manchester

24th – The Corner, Nottingham

26th – The Hope, Brighton

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.