We Are Twin is a duo consisting of Germany-raised, Sri Lankan producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Balachandran and New York-born and bred singer/songwriter Gabi Christine. They first met at a 2009 songwriting session, during which they wrote fifteen songs together. And so We Are Twin was born.
The duo’s self-titled debut E.P. opens with a high-octane, super soulful pop tune called “The Way We Touch” and, wow, you’d think you were listening to a lost Amy Winehouse track produced by Mark Ronson. It truly sounds like it could’ve been on Back To Black. It’s so uncanny your jaw drops. But once that stops freaking you out, you’re floored by just how damn talented these two are and so your jaw drops again. And before the song is over, you’re totally in love with them. It’s easily one of 2013’s very best songs and I’m sure it will top a lot of critic’s lists, including my own. Gabi’s vocals are so inspired and full of life and she has that wonderful, smoky texture that the coaches on The Voice are always insanely jealous of. And it has a totally infectious beat that grabs you before she even starts singing. Hell, Nicolas gives the song a better Mark Ronson vibe than Mark Ronson himself has given some of his more recent productions. (Which isn’t to insult Ronson. I’m just saying that he used to have a classic yet unique sound of his own and he’s produced a lot of things that sound pretty far-removed from that during recent years.)
After you’ve finished listening to “The Way We Touch,” you expect the next song to pale in comparison because, well, nothing can possibly compare to how marvelous that one is. But then “Keep On Lovin’ You” starts and you’re pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just as good. Maybe even better. It’s like they took everything they did with “The Way We Touch” and turned it up to 10. But not in a blaring way. Yes, the jangly electric guitars and bass guitar are louder, but they’re also even catchier, providing great hooks on top of beats that are once again very Ronson-esque. Here, Gabi’s vocals are even smokier and give off a bluesy rock vibe, not unlike Grace Potter. And there are some gorgeous, Phil Spector-ish backing vocals that promise to make your heart flutter every time you listen to it. If I had to compare this one to anything Ronson has done it wouldn’t be Amy Winehouse but the brilliant album Release Me by the girl group The Like. That said, I promise not to mention Ronson again for the remainder of this review.
“I just can’t sleep without you boy / All the saddest stars are out tonight / I wear my heart out on my sleeve / I put it there for you to see,” Gabi sings as the ballad “True Love” begins. From the beginning until the end of the first chorus it’s a very mellow affair with sparse guitar, faint synthesizer and tamborine, but beyond that there’s an almost droning bass sound that’s very electro-pop right up and through the second chorus. Just when that ends, things kick into high gear with the addition of peppy drums and a killer guitar riff. And the synthesizer becomes much more prominent and sounds kind of eerie, which can also be said of the backing vocals. Still, it might prove haunting but it’s ultimately a very positive song as Gabi sings the chorus again. “True love, keeps us going / True love, keeps me turning / True love keeps me going on and on,” Gabi sings with a mix of heartache and hope in her voice.
Up next is “Cold Stone Lips” which makes the best use of STEREO that I’ve heard in years with certain parts distinctively coming out of the left speaker and others coming out of the right. For example, you hear a cymbal from your right speaker then there are flourishes of synth coming out of your left. But the clattering beat and lead vocal do come out of both speakers, less it be too dizzying. That said, Nicolas (or some other male) provides some background vocals here and those come out of the right speaker exclusively. The song does not rely on the studio wizardry to grab you though, as it has great hooks and would still be a winner even if it was simply performed acoustically.
Finally, we have the amusingly-titled “Don’t Tell Your Parents.” I say it’s amusing because Gabi’s voice sounds aged beyond her years — in a very good way — so it’s a little funny hearing her tell the boy the song is directed at not to tell his parents, this being a song about young love, but that’s the only thing that’s funny about this irresistible number that has a cool ’60’s pop rock vibe. “Don’t tell your parents / just spend the night / oh don’t you worry / you’ll be just fine,” goes the entirely seductive bridge. And then Gabi practically wails the oh-so-potent chorus: “I want to go out tonight / you make me feel alive / ’cause the way that you makin’ me feel keeps me up at night.” If the duo’s mature sound fails to capture the tween demographic with “The Way We Touch” then all they need do is release this one as a single and they’ll surely have them — along with the rest of us.
NOTE: The date of this posting, August 26th, is the final day that you can download “The Way We Touch” free from iTunes if you’re in the United States. Meanwhile, the E.P. is on sale for just $2.99. So, hurry, go and check them out. You will not be disappointed.