The Watson Twins Talking to You, Talking to Me Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

The pair are expectedly strong of voice, but much here comprises an icy cool listen.

Jude Rogers 2010

The presence of twins in pop music – bless their shared DNA – has a somewhat chequered history. The intimacy between them can often trigger warmth and playfulness, but there are oceans of difference between Kim and Kelley Deal’s brilliant Breeders or Jez and Andy Williams’ Doves and the saccharine pop of Bros and The Cheeky Girls. Leigh and Chandra Watson, identical 35-year-olds born and raised in Kentucky, but now living in California, aim to be in the former camp, making alt-folk and country of a rather classy order. But instead of being an engaging, lovely exercise in family values, Talking to You, Talking to Me is an icy cold listen.

It’s also been four years since the Twins came to prominence as backing singers on Jenny Lewis’ 2006 debut, Rabbit Fur Coat, and as any fans of that album would expect, their voices are strong enough to carry a whole record. Sadly, the songs here are slight and flimsy. Most of them sound like blink-and-you’ll-miss-it backing tracks for under-performing American drama series, pleasant and wholesome as a high-street sandwich, but instantly forgettable. Given that many of them start promisingly, it’s a shame. Modern Man’s driving drum beat loses its power when it’s faced with a butter-smooth melody about an “old-fashioned girl” calling her eponymous lover. The Brave One’s quickly-strummed country licks are quickly anaesthetised when the twins start to sing, without a whiff of interest or emotion, about the “confusion all around me”. Harpeth River even starts like an off cut from Portishead’s Dummy, before its refined wah-wah guitars show how much more committed it is to dull elegance than the Bristol band’s ragged, intense honesty.

Old-fashioned songs without recourse to fancy modern textures work best for The Watson Twins, like the simple finger-clicking balladry of Tell Me Why – a song full of simple lines about hearts sinking and being alone – and Give Me a Chance, in which they sound heartfelt for once, begging a man to not “take me, love me and leave me for dead”. When they sound this alive, it’s hard to ignore them, but as this happens so rarely, pulses will flatline long before they flicker into life.

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