2:54 play NXNE on Friday (June 15) at Lee’s Palace. See listing. Rating: NNN
The focus of most of what's been written about British sister band 2:54, and what Hannah and Collette Thurlow indeed project, is dichotomy. Their music is seeking and smouldering, shadowed by detached delivery. On their self-titled debut album, bristling, earnest guitar lines and grungy bass smudge the feminine/tough vocals (no doubt inspired by riot grrrls).
Though the duo clearly draw from alt-rock tropes - their name is a homage to hardcore act the Melvins - they adeptly find ways to make the weathered, withered sound new, or at least vital, again. Much of the appeal lies in the music's inherent drama: languid laments conceal romantic malevolence (You're Early, Sugar), while crests of distortion (Creeping, Circuitry) transmit melodic despondence.
It's all deliberate gazes, chins down and forced smiles, like being at your best on your worst days.
Top track: Creeping