13 Track, LP (2011, Remote Control Records)
Related: Single Twin.
Since the demise of Melbourne outfit Deloris, former frontman Marcus Teague has thrown himself into his long-time solo moniker Single Twin, a project which shares an overall thrust common to so many sideline efforts – namely a willingness to pursue indulgences and explore rabbit holes that might never have been fully penetrated without the protective cover of a new sobriquet.
The album’s greatest strength lies in Teague’s complex approach to songwriting and album sequencing: every word, line, stanza and song seems to complement the others, shading their meanings and contributing crucially to the whole. There are thoughtful medleys and often devastating juxtapositions, such as the one-two punch of gorgeous instrumental ‘Slow Down Soldier’ and ‘My Silken Tooth’, which shimmers, charges and retreats with nuance and depth. Teague’s talent as a musician is to hear how all his sounds essentially exist on the same spectrum. They’re earthy, unhurried, and occupied by a hypnotic kind of beauty – a counterweight to the impulse to make something glossy, agitated and, well, young.
There’s real space on this album, which is, at times, so lonesome and introverted that Teague’s flourishes of sound are less an accompaniment to his vocals than his fond memory of music half-remembered. By following a self-propelled creative process (the entire album was played, recorded and mixed at home by Teague himself on GarageBand over six or so years) Teague has been able to keep close control on the music, casting the songs as spare, lonely ruminations on lost love and lost opportunities. Yet there’s always dignity in his despondency, and there’s always something rumbling in the background of this album that means songs like the relatively spry ‘Dirty Sleeves on the Salty Water’ and ‘Get to Love You’ stand out all the more strongly for being so self-contained.
The albums sees Teague dial the pulse back down, favouring spacious songwriting that sets the lyrics front and centre. It’s a record full of stories, with the writer centring most of the tunes around simple narratives and offbeat characters. Expressing contemporary anxiety and alienation. Conflict, resolution, and character development often slip by unnoticed, eased in their passage by woozy atmospherics.
Indeed, Marcus Teague’s many subtleties means it can’t be enjoyed just anytime; it practically demands solitude. The tracks work as mood pieces as well as songs, and the mood is so consistent that it takes time for the craft of each composition to peer through; a silver lining on a gray morning.
by Jen Peterson-Ward