Twerps self-titled debut was something of a marvel. It hit the US with little fanfare, but won over the hearts of many listeners and scored them a tour opening for Real Estate. Me, personally, I fawned over the LP for the entirety of 2011. There was something in the relaxed attitude the band employed, and yet often offset with their jangling Aussie guitar prowess. Range Anxiety picks up where that album left off, though there’s touches with the vocals that elevate this effort above its predecessor.
While there’s a statement instrumental opener, Range Anxiety officially begins with “I Don’t Mind.” I hesitate to call it a true piece of slacker pop, though the pacing would suggest such. My issue with that revolves around the song’s time, spanning over 5 minutes. That’s not a slacker band running out of ideas, but rather a comfortable approach to well-crafted pop music. They follow it up with the bouncy “Back to You,” which sounds like a spritely version of the Go-Betweens. I love how the backing vocals don’t join instantaneously during the chorus, but rather build into it…that’s a nice touch.
Speaking of nice touches, I like how Jules has a more prominent role on this LP, particularly in the standout track, “Shoulders.” It’s a tune that features that shimmering guitar work, but her voice offers a different tonal quality than that of her counterpart, Marty. It actually harkens back to a time of more pristine female voices, void of auto-tune and all that other technological hoopla. Her presence on “Adrenaline” adds a continued softness that really smooths out the edges for Twerps; it’s still the same act, just a slight bit more leaning towards classic sounds of pop beauty.
In the end, I’m going to still fawn over this album for it’s guitar playing. Sure, everyone has praised the Oceanic influence on guitar over the last decade, but I don’t think there are many that do it quite as authentically as these guys. Listening to “Cheap Education,” I was pushed way back into my own record collection, at least mentally. There’s a spirit to it that’s hardly been matched, and it always make listening to the group a joy. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t invest a sentence or two in “Love at First Sight.” This song is unlike much of those that precede it, though I’ve found myself gravitating towards it again and again. There’s something ramshackle that’s set amidst a really subdued performance.
Those that first fell in love with Twerps will surely find every song on Range Anxiety to have a redeeming quality. But, I think they’ve put in enough finishing touches to really surpass their debut in many ways. It’s a different listen, but one that exemplifies growth whilst staying grounded to what got them their in the first place. Going to keep playing this album again and again.