On Talk Normal's sophomore LP Sunshine, the Brooklyn duo unveil songs that sparkle with melody and dissonance. Jarring rhythms and feedback-drenched guitar tones lace Sunshine's nine surprisingly songful tunes - creating a sound informed by their predecessors (Cocteau Twins, Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson & Creatures), but strikingly new.
After years of friendship, Sarah Register and Andrya Ambro's Talk Normal first emerged on the NYC music scene in 2007, initially releasing demos, cassettes and their Secret Cog vinyl EP. Following the 2009 release of their debut album Sugarland on Rare Book Room Records (recorded and mixed by Nicolas Vernhes), Talk Normal released a handful of 7"s (including a split 7" with Thurston Moore on Nathan Howdeshell from The Gossip's Fast Weapons Records) and shared the stage with the likes of Sonic Youth, Wire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zola Jesus.
In the three years since Sugarland, Talk Normal have refined their noisy vigor into the diverse batch of songs found on Sunshine. Tracks like "Bad Date", "Cover", and "Hurricane" carry almost a meditative emotional energy, where others like "Sunshine" and "Shot This Time" err on the side of explosive driving rock. Plus dance-y "XO", narrative noisers "Lone General" and "Baby, Your Heart's Too Big", and standout vocal harmonies on "Hot Water Burns". Produced by the band, Sunshine was recorded in 2011 by Christina Files at Vacation Island Studios in Brooklyn NY and Echo Canyon West in Hoboken NJ (Files also contributed to production). Allen Farmello mixed at The Snow Farm in Brooklyn NY. Written over the course of years, culminating in frequent jumps from studio to studio, and with the band going on two month-long tours mid-process (!) this album is laced with a sense of urgency and jubilation unique to the path it traveled into reality.
Unlike traditional noisy-rock, Talk Normal's Sunshine is steeped in melody, albeit unconventional melody. Sweet-sounding female vocals are present throughout, sometimes as sung lyrics and sometimes as instruments themselves. Ambro & Register's combined voices often volley back and forth, each providing equal contributions to vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation - meticulously orchestrating not only the arrangements, but also the tonality of each collected sound. As Pitchfork describes: "(their) vocals can handle both desperate screech and matter-of-fact detachment somewhere between Karen O and Kim Gordon". Combined with Register's flowing, nearly-drony riffs and Ambro's finely choreographed beats, the end result is a natural sonic cohesion. Maybe not the sunshine you're used to, but rays within which you'll want to bask.