Like many close siblings, 2:54’s Colette and Hannah Thurlow have a way of finishing each other’s sentences, and that intuitive sense informs the sound of their forthcoming 2:54 debut album as much as it does their conversations. “We don’t really have to say much to each other when we’re working on the songs,” Hannah explains. “The songs kinda start, I’ll write the basic kind of musical track with all the instruments, then send it over to Colette in kind of a rough structure.” “Yeah, but I’ll do the lyrics and the melody, and then we’ll meet,” Colette chimes in. “So it’s a separate process, to a point.”
That intuition actually makes it easier for the them to work apart. The Irish sisters, who were raised in Bristol and now live in different flats in London, wrote songs in their respective bedrooms, trading ideas via the Internet before meeting up to complete songs. It was an appropriate foreshadowing vehicle for how the band came to fruition, considering it was also one web demo post that eventually led to their record deals and debut album 2:54 (out this week). In 2009, the two were in a punk band that lasted all of 10 shows. “No song was longer than two minutes and really fast and I shouted, and that kind of a thing,” laughs Colette. The sisters smoothed their sound, and posted the GarageBand-recorded “Creeping” to their Myspace page in late 2010. Fiction Records released their Scarlet EP in the UK, and just before their appearances at this year’s SXSW, Fat Possum signed them, re-released the EP, and announced their eponymous album.
Colette describes their new album’s cover photo (taken at Doolin Point in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland, where they summered as kids) as “… just really turbulent seascape and incredibly atmospheric.” That goes for their songs as well: A dark, gothy romanticism and careening urgency permeates 2:54. “Revolving” and “Sugar” pulsate insistently while Colette’s dreamy vocals yield to the sultry rhythms; in the foreboding, noir “You’re Early” the yearning of the song’s chorus is palpable. They grew up with a love of stoner metal like Queens of the Stone Age and Deftones, but 2:54’s heaviness is buttressed by light. They juxtapose dirgeful melodies with ethereal vocals on moodily pretty songs like “Easy Undercover” and the intoxicating “Scarlet.”
While things happened quickly for them thus far, their approach is a more studied, growing affair, from their building, lush-and-loud sound, to their moniker. They named themselves after a section in Melvins’ “A History of Bad Men.” “We’re kind of fascinated with moments in songs … especially growing up, or whenever we hear a song it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s it, that’s it’ — like there’s some crucial bit in a song that we kind of become obsessed with,” Colette says. “And with that particular Melvins’ track it was two minutes and 54 seconds in. It’s just this big, cool buildup and this dive into this huge dirty bass line, and the lyrics are like dire and fleeting, it’s pretty romantic.”
For 2:54, the buildup continues to grow.
2:54’s self-titled album is out now via Fat Possum. Watch their video for “Creeping” below.