Music Reviews
Range Anxiety

Twerps Range Anxiety

(Merge) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

As Real Estate exemplifies in their slackened work ethic, Twerps embrace the normality and mundanity of modern life for inspiration. The Melbourne foursome do like to flourish those finely tuned guitars with a sameness that can easily be confused with listlessness, reflected in somber observations that paint an accurate picture of life lived in a passive, dispirited ease. Things usually don’t go well for them in their songs, which explains their habitual suppression of emotions. Feelings began to stir up in the quietly proficient EP Underlay, a sweetly melancholic offering that not only fleshed out the narrow limitations of their sound but also presented them in a more susceptible state. 

Twerps now have a greater confidence in the ability to care, though unfortunately it produces the desired opposite effect. The term anxiety is emphasized for a reason on their latest, Range Anxiety, as the overall sentiment found throughout is the equivalent to a glowing chest pain located right in the center of the heart. In the ruminative I Don’t Mind, singer Martin Frawley half sings with troubling ambivalence ("I don’t mind if you go/I don’t mind if you stay/I just want to know, It’s yours and mine"), softly spoken over a cyclical guitar melody that coasts by in a steady manner. The airy, warm atmosphere brings in a sedate calm with a therapeutic effect.

It doesn’t last for long. Some baroque instrumentation slips into Shoulders, a song that poses more dissatisfaction with a touch of incisive wit reminiscent of 69 Love Songs. But as opposed to Stephen Merritt’s cold and detached character, which Twerps have emulated in the past, they want to articulate those feelings of despair with a faint glint of major key instrumentation. When keeping things simple the songs gain more significance, and even more when they’re expressed with such barefaced directness. There’s the Kiwi pop-inspired Simple Feelings, in which Frawley ponders how things stand ("I’ve been missing seeing you around/ but our love goes round and round") around a steady, buoyant jangling melody.

Twerps also reference early Camper Van Beethoven on Cheap Education, a nervy college rock anthem that narrates a relationship that is riddled with ambiguity and confusion. The chorus has sing-along potential - “I wait for your words to become positive/ I wait for your words to become negative” - another moment of release that continues the album’s notion of not “bottling things” up. Frawley does makes great strides as a confessional lyricist, though singer Julia Mac Farlane’s contributions don’t fall short, either. Her candy-coated flights of fancy about living life “like a television” in Adrenaline may ring as adorably fey at first, though it’s a welcome distraction from Frawley’s more open-hearted admissions. 

Range Anxiety is a deeply considered listen, one that relinquishes the audacious idiosyncrasies of Underlay EP in favor of a more scrupulous and intrinsic approach. At this point the gamut of influences they carry are so deeply rooted into their sound that any effort to stall any further progress exhibits a stumble in execution. The “emotional obstacles” that went into the recording of the album, as McFarlane describes, are what gives it more depth and color, allowing themselves to let their perpetual nervousness unfold in full vigor. So what if they let their emotions strip bare. Caring too much can put one at risk, and Twerps handle the hurt as best as they can: with awkward grit.