CONCERT COUNTDOWN: Summer Twins - Limbo

Kelly Kirwan

Summer Twins are easy listening. They play sunny dream pop that has the blunt edge of '50s and '60s garage rock, and is soothing without being sleepy—songbird vocals backed by the occasional soft kick. While they've enlisted extra hands to round out their sound (on bass, guitar, and the intermittent mellotron), at its core, Summer Twins is a sister act brought to us by Chelsea and Justine Brown. On their latest LP, Limbo, the sibling duo wrote the lyrics in their entirety and performed the brunt of the underlying melody (the element which comes first for them in the creative process).

The two recorded their second studio album in a somewhat seedy Sacramento area, with Chris Woodhouse acting as their in-house producer (his resume includes a collaboration with LA indie rock-god Ty Segall). Trekking between California's capital and their new Los Angeles abode, the Brown sisters created an LP that's West Coast through and through—its songs are painted in warm yellow and orange hues, where even the tints of grunge are laid-back in delivery. As a band, they've created the kind of Limbo you want to bide your time in, hovering between now and the era of Beach Boys and The Beatles.

The smooth shot of nostalgia that Summer Twins serves on their album is ever-present on the track "Our World". It's sultry and slow to unfold, evocative of old-school, early-'60s romance—swaying at a small-town dance, letterman jackets and talk of going steady. "I'll wait for you / And you will wait for me / Can't stand another night of sleeping alone / Let's put our belief into the unknown," the Brown sisters croon, and their sweet, forlorn delivery has that retro vibe of USO girls sending off the troops, bittersweet and hopeful all at once.

Then there's "Ouija," which has a more ominous tone, coupled with the Brown's high, lilting vocals (reminiscent of Dusty Springfield's 1968 single "Spooky"). It's a track that flirts with themes of dark magic and mysticism, slipping into winding guitar riffs typical of psych-rock and its affinity for pensive, bass-heavy interludes. The gentle cadence of the Browns' vocals has a hypnotic effect, conveying an uncertainty and restlessness over what's brewing beneath the surface: "Something's got to change / I feel it in my veins / Like a sunny sky turns into rain / Let it thunder, let it pour / Let it shake me to the core." It's uncanny and a tad kitschy, but a fast-acting ear-worm that's readily put on repeat.

Currently setting off on a cross-country tour, Summer Twins—and their latest project—are worthy of your radar. For one, their music is an absolute hit in Japan (seriously, with cover bands and all), and two, they've pulled off a genre that tends to be overdone without coming across as stale. They have a relaxing sound that never drifts into the background, proving a softer touch can have the stronger staying power. 

Summer Twins will be headlining ThrdCoast's first collaborative show with Dirges & Daydreams at Babycastles in New York City on Sunday, March 27, with fellow acts Cut Worms and Goldy. We hope to see you there!