I’m often flabbergasted by how strong and mature a debut album can be. Most debut albums are rough around the edges, offering hints at the band’s potential. The debut from The Paradox Twin, however, is one of those debuts that just makes total sense and comes across as being written by a seasoned veteran, not a band that is new on the scene. “The Importance of Mr Bedlam” releases on June 29th, and I’ve been taken by the pure talent here.
The Paradox Twin consists of frontman Danny Sorrell on guitars, keys, and vocals; Leland Freeman on guitars; Diane Fox on bass; and Rob McGregor on drums. It seems like the band has existed and made music since 2012 (with different members), but “The Importance of Mr Bedlam” is dubbed as their debut. The album is releasing on White Star Records, the new label from John Mitchell (Frost, Kino, Lonely Robot). John produced the album, and actually guests on it, as well; and the overall sound definitely has his imprint on it. Kim Seviour (formerly of Touchstone) guests on a couple tracks, as well.
The music is definitely in the vein of alternative progressive rock, and you may hear some Porcupine Tree and other such influences. Like that genre, you’ll hear some 90s sounds that will be familiar, and the emotion will be front and center. Unlike much of that genre, there isn’t much edge or steel in the guitars, as the band instead seems to prefer to aim for musical space and atmosphere. You’ll hear plenty of beautiful keys and electronic accents, too, bringing a completeness to the sound. This whole album feels like a dream, and some of the best moments are the points where almost nothing is happening. The band manages their sound so very well, but they also know how to kick into overdrive to rock out when the timing is appropriate.
The album is quite poetic and focused lyrically. I’m assuming that the band’s name reflects the twin paradox thought experiment, and that is in the same vein as the lyrics here, to some extent. While I don’t think that this is a true concept album, it contains the overall theme of alien control of our world. The band states that alien conspiracy theories were the inspiration for the lyrics, and thus the album comes across as eerie, mysterious, and paranoid. Honestly, I haven’t heard such an atmosphere since Evergrey’s “In Search of Truth”, and you will find a nostalgic feeling in this album if you are a fan of that one.
Danny has a unique voice. He has this slight roughness and quiver that is instantly endearing, and also fits the tone of the music perfectly. Even being a young band, they don’t really sound like anyone else. The instrumentation on the album is lush and full, especially the mixture of the gruff guitars with the aura-like keyboards. I’m also a big fan of the rhythm section, as Diane’s bass is powerful and drives the music, while Rob’s drums are off-kilter and satisfying.
Every single one of the seven tracks is fantastic. The songs do seem like they spill into one another, making the album feel exactly like the “opus” that Danny meant it to be. My favorite tracks are difficult to pick, as a result. All of the songs have such good qualities, like “The Mir”, the melodic and atmospheric opener with an addictive vocal harmony; or “Cycles”, with its wonderful center guitar lick and pure ambience that the latter half offers.
I’m going to go with three different songs as my favorites, though. The title track is pure joy. It offers a haunting, alien vibe with periods of both electronic accent and distorted drive. “Earthbound” might be my favorite overall, though. I love the contrast between the eerie atmosphere and the distorted guitars that drop in at the halfway point. It also has my favorite chorus on the album. “Planeta” is the single, and it is absolutely stunning. It has space to spare, but it also is somehow intensely melodic, atmospheric, and rocking at the same time. I love rapid piano melody, especially.
So, all in all, the debut from The Paradox Twin is easily one of the best albums so far this year. It has soul and emotion, but also otherworldly impressions and fantastic production. It has some of the most mature songwriting that I’ve seen in a young band for some time, and I have a feeling that their music will only get better and better. There is definitely a reason that PROG Magazine has been giving them some love recently. This is definitely a must-hear album this year.
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