Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Album Review: Two Of A Kind - Rise

As the name would suggest, what makes Two Of A Kind unique is having not one, but two singers in the fold. As I sat down to write this, I started thinking about all the music I have listened to, and I struggled to come up with other bands that featured two different vocalists (other than having one clean, one harsh). Usually, one singer is more than enough to convey the songs and the messages, and having more than that would invite comparisons where fans will like one more than the other. So it's actually interesting to hear a band that embraces having two different voices. When you hear a lot of music that is similar, these little details help them stand out, definitely.

There's another factor about this record that stands out; the bass. The way the album is produced, and with the guitars mostly sitting in the background, the bass ends up right in front of the mix. Given how almost all modern music is presented, it's a jarring change to hear the instruments' roles reversed. Of course, I could posit the reason for the mixing being an effort to hide the guitar's tone. The record does sound a bit rough around the edges in places.

But the songwriting is far more important than the level of polish on the recording. That's where Two Of A Kind stands stronger. For the most part, "Rise" is an album that delivers 80s style rock with plenty of big choruses made even bigger by the ability to layer the two singers into a wall of vocals. That's the band's strongest attribute, and they wisely play off it.

What is less successful is the song "Rock Your World", which not only falls into the category of rock songs about rocking, but has lyrics that specifically tell us that Two Of A Kind is going to rock us. I shouldn't have to say this as often as I do, but let me reiterate; if you have to tell us how much you rock, you probably don't rock at all. Sorry.

"Naked" might be the best track, a beautiful lighter-swinging half ballad that builds effectively, and pays it all off. The album as a whole, however, can't maintain that momentum. When they try to rev things up, they falter. They aren't a heavy band, and rocking on the edge of their limits doesn't play into their melodic strengths. When they allow themselves to dial things back, they're good. That doesn't happen as often as it should.

Overall, that makes this a difficult album to recommend. There are some charming moments on it, but there are enough songs that struggle it doesn't make it over the hump. Add in the production that leaves the record sounding dated, and it just doesn't make a strong enough case. After a decade between albums, I would have expected more from this group. Melodic rock has already offered up plenty of better albums, including this month alone.

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