Throws consists of one current and one past member of the English band Tunng. Mike Lindsay, who currently lives in Iceland, invited his former bandmate Sam Genders, currently of the Accidentals, over to his Reykjavik studio to work on a new project. Unsurprisingly, Throws’ sound has a great deal in common with Tunng and the Accidentals. Together, Lindsay and Genders rely on a soft, acoustic bed to support their pastoral sound, keen on using it to usher a psychedelic sound into 21st century indie rock. Throws are the latest band to represent the current indie rock trend to outfox the Fleet Foxes. Two voices sing all the melodies in octaves, the top always delivered in falsetto by Sam Genders. The voices are short on enunciation and projection but heavy on echo, providing a slapback sometimes so aggressive that it’s difficult to understand what’s being sung. This “effect”, if you will, is found on all ten songs of the Throws eponymous debut album. For all that the duo accomplishes together, this is by far the most persistent trait.
Recording in Reykjavik has made an indelible mark on the recording. Lindsay has successfully ingratiated himself with the Icelandic music scene, tapping the help of Sigurlaug Gísladóttir and Amiina. This all gives Throws just the slightest whiff of being a rather distant cousin to Sigur Rós, a comparison that doesn’t hurt. The listener can digest all of the elements of Throws’ sound on the opener “The Harbour”. A confused-sounding descending figure played on an electric guitar is hung on a very no-frills/thrills drumbeat, an arrangement that suddenly drops out so that Lindsay and Genders can harmonize about wishing for someone to stay in the harbour. As the music hangs in a purgatory free of any suspense, Genders goes on to sing every word as if he were in the middle of slipping on a banana peel. I can make out the words “human” and “hurt each other”, but that’s about it.
The second song of the album, and the second song to be released prior to the album’s street date, is the equally-tentative sounding “Punch Drunk Sober”. The beginning is promising, sounding like a chordal pattern Johnny Marr might have laid out on the keyboards in the late ’80s when Morrissey wasn’t watching. Unfortunately, for every moment of musical clarity achieved by Throws, there is a disproportionate amount of sogginess surrounding it. The lead guitar of “Punch Drunk Sober” sounds like it’s frightened of the daylight. “High Pressure Front” enjoys a modest amount of guitar crunch, though the song doesn’t seem too concerned with creating any more pressure beyond that. The word “front” is muttered rather than sung at the start. The percussion of “Knife” is distracting, and ultimately off target. The effect applied to the brass (synthetic or real, it’s difficult to tell) on “Play the Part” is the same one that Lindsay has applied to the vocals, giving the song a ramshackle presentation that is likely put there just to appeal a sense of whimsy possessed by a handful of listeners.
A lot of pre-release chatter surrounding the Throws debut album is just how catchy the songs are and how they won’t leave your head. Trusting this assertion to be objectively true, the standards for brain worms in pop music are currently savoring a very, very liberal state of flexibility. If Throws’ tunes were not so coated in Teflon, I might not have been driven so hard to distraction by their production choices. As it stands, Throws is built upon a pile of production choices that are either indie-tastic or ill-advised, depending on one’s opinion.