Rock & Roll Report Card

In Heaven, Twin Sister

Following the success of their second EP Color Your Life, Twin Sister has returned with their debut vinyl LP In Heaven.

Since 2008, this Long Island quintet has made it onto almost every indie short list, including Pitchfork’s 2010 tracks of the year poll.

However, In Heaven deviates from the band’s upbeat past, expanding on the more subtle grooves that weren’t fully realized on their previous release.

The opening track, “Daniel,” uses a xylophone as a slow introduction to the album, with the band gradually filling the aural landscape with an electronic haze on subsequent tracks.

The first single, “Bad Street,” is a brief interruption to this slow-paced smoothness. With a synth-infused opening reminiscent of a 1980s workout tape, “Bad Street” brings the funk.

“Bad Street” manages to shift gears from the mellow tracks preceding it, but it’s held back by a lack of direction. It comes across as gimmicky, outdone by the charm of the album’s other tracks.

It’s not until the seventh song that the album shows a uniqueness worth listening to. “Spain” barrels in, eliminating any hint of fatigue. When paired with “Gene Ciampi,” the two songs electrify the album.

The album’s biggest highlight is “Saturday Sunday.” It touches all of the band’s strengths: bright guitar, synth accents and, of course, Andrea Estella’s breathy vocals.

While In Heaven drags slightly in the middle, its ending is polished, rescuing Twin Sister from getting lost in the current deluge of hipster bands. With its highs and lows, the album is worth listening to, if only to see the current trend towards indie-pop. The greatest function of this album is to introduce Twin Sister — a band in development, but worth paying attention to.

— Devin Clancy

Odd Fellowship, Rebekah Higgs

In her fourth solo album, Rebekah Higgs uses muted memories of classic show tunes to weave a 10-song ode to simplicity. With a sound like the vocal lovechild of Kate Nash and Zooey Deschanel, Higgs has the musical makings of an indie goldmine. But this record leaves something to be desired.

“Little Voice” makes its sophomore appearance, originally listed on her 2010 four-track EP Little Voice. It shouldn’t have made it onto Odd Fellowship. The under-produced track sounds more like a church choir melody than a pop song — it’s an unchanging piano ballad with no rhythmic variance.

Despite a catchier back-beat, the album’s second track, “Gosh Darn Damn,” maintains Odd Fellowship’s predictable pop. Repetition of the song’s title lyrics doesn’t help Higgs’ halfhearted lyrical endeavor. The absence of risks leaves this song lacking.

The only standout is, “Youth and Beauty.” The strong harmony in the chorus makes this track the one to hear. It proves that taking risks is exactly what this young artist needs. The synthesizer mixes up Higg’s use of light keyboard and bells, giving the song a presence otherwise unheard on the record.

Higgs’ musical progression is best described by Odd Fellowship’s album art. Her image is faded on the cover. Her previous musical presence fades with this album. Odd Fellowship works to advocate a return to Higgs’ edgier self-titled debut that hit shelves in 2006.

— ­Terra-Ann Arnone

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