Beso De Muerte Records
It’s hard to believe that Twin Tribes’ previous LP of originals Ceremony came out in 2019, if only because the Texas-based duo of Luis Navarro and Joel Niño Jr. have stayed so close at hand during the intervening years thanks to their aggressive touring schedule. One might expect that given what road warriors they’ve proven themselves to be, and the deep dig into formative goth influences that their work has displayed, that new album Pendulum would favor the rock side of the melodic darkwave movement. Somewhat contrarily, it’s a record that delves further into their synth-based work in a fashion that both eschews the current (and some might argue derivative) electro-darkwave sound, and maintains their focus on snappy songwriting.
The latter factor is especially important to Pendulum‘s success; Navarro and Niño Jr. have never been far from a solid hook or a catchy riff, but one of the LP’s particular strengths is the way that those elements are delivered effectively without forgoing the atmospherics that are so central to Twin Tribes’ sound. That means that early cuts like “Another Life” and single “Monolith” come out of the gate hard, establishing their mood with synth bass, pads and leads, their icy tension filled out quickly by guitar filigree and tastefully melodramatic vocals. The clip at which the material moves and the pace it maintains without becoming monotonous is impressive; while there’s not a lot of variation in the drum programming and tempos, Twin Tribes use instrumental variation to keep things distinct – see the strummy rhythm guitar on “Sangre de Oro”, or the washy reverbs and overlapping vocals that fill out the excellent “Eternal”.
That rhythmic consistency matches the bounce and punch of the heavy use of synths (which, again, sit far more in line with the earliest forms of new wave and darkwave than modern dark dancefloors) which distinguish Pendulum from Ceremony. If that record doubled down on the pure goth rock genome in their debut tape Shadows, Pendulum swings (no pun intended) in the opposite direction, expanding on Shadows‘ interest in crystalline synth chimes. This shift in instrumentation is admittedly subtle, and doesn’t ever break from the expectations set by Pendulum‘s predecessors. Note how “Temperance” is almost entirely comprised of synths and programming, save for exactly the sort of spiralling guitar lead we’ve come to expect from the duo, yet feels entirely sympatico with the thudding rock of “Sanctuary”.
With those synths keeping things bright and uptempo (well, at least by Twin Tribes’ standards: this is still goth and darkwave we’re talking about), Pendulum maintains the band’s rep as one of the most immediate and enjoyable acts in their field. Three albums in, Navarro and Niño have their aesthetic on lock, and their broad fanbase will be overjoyed to have a new iteration of it after a hiatus from recording. Recommended.