London retro-pop practitioners Silvertwin revive the 60s, 70s and 80s
Release Date: 16th July 2021
Label: Silvertwin Records
Formats: CD / Digital
Sometimes, we need something like this. No agendas, no polemic, no subliminal messaging. Just clean, enjoyable retro-pop that brings the happy innocence of a long-departed era back to shimmering life.
Silvertwin is the brainchild of frontman Isaac Shalam and the band’s mission on this, their eponymous debut album, is to revive the misty-eyed, lovelorn charms of a once golden era for music. In Isaac’s own words, the band set out to “create and album of timeless songwriting” that “explores themes of young love and the wide spectrum of emotions that come with it.” Isaac names his musical influences as The Beatles, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Carole King, Billy Joel, Abba and “anyone who can write a great three-minute song.” And, wow, don’t those influences shine through in the ten songs that constitute this album.
Hailing from East London, Isaac has been writing songs since he was thirteen years old, and he got around to forming Silvertwin whilst at university in London, when he teamed up with, first, Alicia Barisani, then other band members Dan Edery, Lauric Mackintosh and Antonio Naccache. In describing their sound, the band suggest that we “…think Paul McCartney produced by ELO and you’re part-way there,” and that description is, indeed, a good start. When listening to this album, I also detected substantial chunks of Supertramp and Gerry Rafferty flavourings and, whether this applies to my ears only, a distinct similarity with the work of mid-seventies, Beatles-influenced bands like Stackridge.
And, I have to say that, if the band’s objective has been to present “a time-capsule of 70s hits you never knew existed,” then – well done – it’s mission accomplished!
The Paul McCartney influence pervades this album like water through a sponge – it’s everywhere. Isaac Shalam has clearly cultivated his uncannily McCartney-like vocal style and his writing pays huge tribute to that same source. This influence is perhaps most evident on the album’s opening track, the bright, bouncy, Ploy – also the band’s first single, released in early 2020 – on the anthemic piano ballad Promises and on the epic album closer, Driving Me Wild, a 30s pastiche that recalls McCartney’s Honey Pie or the Stackridge song, Friendliness.
The band’s light, airy second single, Doubted, wears its Supertramp influence with pride, and the clean, driving rockers Saviour and the Night is Ours would have fitted seamlessly onto either of Gerry Rafferty’s mid-seventies hit albums, City To City and Night Owl. Current single, You Only, and Love Me Hate Me are both light, poppy offerings, each with its own catchy hook and something of an eighties sound. Both manage to stay just on the right side of the line that divides thoughtfully crafted from cheesy, and Take Me On, the album’s penultimate track, is rockier, with a feel of vintage ELO.
The lazy ballad, I Don’t Want To Fight Anymore is, perhaps, my pick of the entire bunch. More Lennon than McCartney, and dominated by a strong, intimate vocal, it’s different from anything else on the album and reminds me of several of Lennon’s mid-seventies songs, particularly Mind Games and #9 Dream.
Production of Silvertwin was handled by Foxygen’s esteemed Jonathan Rado, whose CV includes albums with the likes of The Flaming Lips, The Killers and Father John Misty. He’s been a mentor to the band since their earliest days, and has previously invited the band out to Los Angeles to record at the Electro Vox studio in the city. Recording of this debut album was to tape, rather than by digital means, the album was mixed by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios and mixed by the legendary Cenzo Townsend. This TLC has resulted in an album that accurately reproduces the sounds of the sixties, the seventies and the eighties. An album to be enjoyed!
Silvertwin say they wanted the video to their newest single, You Only, to feel like a mix of The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night movie and The Monkees TV show, and used a second-hand Super-8 camera to achieve the desired effect. Watch it here: