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Posted on April 3rd, 2012 (7:31 am) by Devan Proctor

Finding an artist who spreads his core sound over a range of rhythms, tones, and styles is very refreshing. Not only is this proof of his versatility and tenacity, this ability emphasizes his many moods. Two Suns illustrates variety in Dream Familiar, a grab-bag of musical ideas and a set of insightful lyrics. Although some songs become lost among stronger tracks, Two Suns achieves coverage of many emotions, from mild acoustics, to reverberated digitals, to sub-ocean dreams. Influenced by folk, electronic, and indie, Dream Familiar spans an array of thoughts set in their accompanying emotions.

Solely fronted by Jake Davidson, Two Suns upholds the teamwork of a band with the concentration of one man. Dream Familiar follows two similarly strong self-released EPs. Fortunately for us, Two Suns has maintained his signature wistful vocals; however, he has certainly grown, touching on new approaches and characteristics. While Two Suns continues his folk and indie groove, he has expanded his electronic sound and has chosen more daring emotions to promote. He defies monotony incorporating new mechanisms, and obtains greater musicianship in many categories, including meter, dynamics, and progression.

Dream Familiar shows off many points on the mood spectrum. In its opening song, “Not The End,” Two Suns’ acoustic guitar plays minor keys in triple meter, and adds another layer in duple form. The sound instills darkness, until the filtered vocals and wild soprano sounds replace it with harmoniously aqueous warmth. This piece is only one example of Two Suns’ oceanic and mellow moments. “Eyes to Hope” eases us into loping strokes of tranquil tones and serene singing. “Dream Familiar” exhibits similar swelling motions and marine sounds one would hear in a conch shell. Its nearly post-rock vibe hurls shallow synth over very busy drums. Eventually, the electric guitar takes the lead and hurtles vibrantly out of the mix. Although the song briefly turns to an electro-pop dance party, its full, voluminous bass returns the serenity and recalls the synth's sub-ocean sounds. Two Suns exhibits calmness and ambiance without losing his drive or direction.

On the other end, Dream Familiar contains more electric, bassy pieces, made to unsettle and accost the ears. “Dirty Industry” begins with a strange twang, seemingly influenced by the Australian outback, and is met with rousing reverb. Throbbing with uncertainty, the song is an electronic scare. Even more important is the title of the piece, which is brought to our ears with a word painting. This digital freak-out is an underground anthem of filthy rhythms and modern soundtrack styles, avoiding the kind organics and friendly, whole sounds absent in today's “dirty industry.” Another dark piece begins with an irregular rhythm and a nefarious tone one would find in the boss levels of video games. “Not the End pt. 2” creeps along, until reverberated bass and quick percussion establish a new rhythm, riding dangerously close to a dubstep turnout. This could easily have turned into another one of those remixes as the static bass presses against its Nine Inch Nails-esque percussion, but Two Suns stays elegant, incorporating lines of lonesome piano and meter changes. The keys revert to a slow tempo, and along with guitars, they drift and fade out.

Somewhere in the middle, Two Suns reaches a calm and folky simplicity. Relaxed and easy acoustic guitar accompanies Two Suns’ singing very beautifully, and lets the lyrics emerge. “Nostalgic” initiates a prairie scene with its mournful melody and carefree vocals. The lyrics sample a dark side to memories and purity, singing, “But memory’s failed before, we thought for sure / This memory’s fading fast, closing doors / These memories always last…we reach for more / These memories of the past, they’re so pure.” That our memories are pure shows how their accompanying negatives (“It seemed so different then / It seems so shallow now”) often disappear when one endures nostalgia. In other words, our good memories are often free of any unfavorable aspect, and are therefore, pure. In their directness, these lyrics sing honest and cynical, utterly matching the tone of “Nostalgia.” Much of Dream Familiar’s lyrics contend with time and tense, solidifying the ultimate theme. “Time Again” refers to time as “an unrelenting enemy/friend / It’ll break, but it never bends.” Clearly, his contemplative mind ponders over time’s unknowable aspects. Two Suns considers one lyric overall, setting it a couple times within the album: “You say the end / I say you’re wrong / It’s not a supernova / It’s an endless song.” Possibly referring to time’s fixed and immutable nature, Two Suns lends insight and consideration to mysterious realities while easily relating his lyrics to us.

Dream Familiar shows off great expansion within its electro-indie genre, especially at the hands of a single artist. Its shortcomings exist, but its ever-changing mood and style prove enough to distract us and prepare us to accept Two Suns’ potential and range. The album’s insightful lyrics compliment its several moods while expressing the diligent detail and composition to listeners. Dream Familiar suits both musicians and casual listeners, making an exploratory and worthwhile record.

Track List:
1. Not the End
2. Nostalgic
3. Dirty Industry
4. Eyes to Hope
5. Time Again
6. Losing, Lost
7. Not the End pt. 2
8. Ran Wild
9. Feelin’ Today
10. dream familiar

Dream Familar, by Two Suns
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

74 / 100
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