Twin Limb's 'In the Warm Light, As a Ghost' Is a Shimmering Slice of Modern Dream Pop
Louisville's Twin Limb emerge from hiatus with an ethereal, intoxicating blend of styles both retro-leaning and futuristic on In the Warm Light, As a Ghost.
In the Warm Light, as a Ghost
27 November 2019
The sound is like a narcotic. "See You in the Warm Light", the opening track from dream-pop trio Twin Limb's latest album, In the Warm Light, As a Ghost, unfolds lazily, with a lush tempo that brings to mind the Sundays with the tempo dialed down to shoegaze BPMs. However, what sets the Louisville-based band apart from other acts that mine the indie spirit of the past is texture. The deceptively small cast of characters – Maryliz Bender on drums and vocals, Lacey Guthrie on accordion and vocals, Kevin Ratterman on guitar and effects – make the most of the trio format by layering the sounds to create an arresting density.
In the Warm Light, As a Ghost sees Twin Limb coming off a lengthy hiatus. Their last album, Haplo, released in 2016, the same year they were the backing band for fellow Louisvillian Jim James' string of solo shows. The new album isn't much of a departure from their signature sound, although longer tracks allow the group to explore further the sounds they create. On songs like "Water", Bender and Guthrie luxuriate in their vocal harmonies while the organic sounds of guitar, accordion, and drums mix well with keyboards and effects, and not in a way that suggests an unfocused sound gone awry. Rather, this is tuneful, melodic stuff. And while Twin Limb seem rooted in a very warm, traditional style of dream-pop that would put them very much at home with everyone from the Cure to Cocteau Twins to Mazzy Star, it's not so much the sound of a band at home with an old sound; rather, they're committed to smartly updating a genre.
In the Warm Light, as a Ghost is also deceptively varied. Simply calling it "dream-pop" sells the album short. The Eastern-tinged "White Tongues" features a faster tempo with Ratterman firing off buzzsaw guitar riffs and Bender's drums nailing down a jagged beat over the ever-ethereal vocal harmonies. That song leads into the funereal tempo of "Whispering", featuring a statelier, more sedate atmosphere that eventually builds up to a fever pitch of guitar and keyboards. Twin Limb are exceedingly skilled at creating moods and conveying emotions that can cover a wide spectrum in the space of one track.
All three musicians are adept at feeding off each other and giving each other space whenever necessary. On a song like "Bone Collector", Bender is happy to keep the beat almost painfully simple to focus attention on the melodic vocal lines, while Ratterman's guitar provides an exquisite level of menace. Meanwhile, the album's closing track, "Music of the Tesseract", is almost soulful in its delivery, with aching guitar followed up by a slow, tense build-up before it all crashes down and concludes with a little more than a minute of low, disembodied feedback.
With nine tracks clocking in at just under an hour, In the Warm Light, As a Ghost seems almost like a tease, as Twin Limb are a band that cram a variety of musical ideas in a short period. Here's hoping they don't wait another three years for the next album.