There are some days where a certain album will simply have me in tears. I can’t help it. And there are days where I don’t think any sort of music could do that to me, but some do unexpectedly. This would be the case for The Paradox Twin’s sophomore release, Silence from Signals. This album is a beautiful and mature work of art.
The Paradox Twin is an interesting group from the UK, signed to John Mitchell’s (of Frost and Lonely Robot) White Star Records. The band’s name comes from the “twin paradox” thought experiment. I encourage you to Google it. Anyways, the band has added some talent this time. The lineup here is Danny Sorrell on vocals, keyboards, guitars, and programming, newcomer Nicole Johnson on vocals, Diane Fox on bass, Leland Freeman on guitars, and Graham Brown on drums.
The band’s overall sound hasn’t changed all that much, but I think the way they compose certainly has. The band plays a modern progressive rock with alternative elements. They come off as maybe the Smashing Pumpkins of the modern progressive rock scene. Melody soaks every inch of their sound, and there are segments that resemble post-rock to my ears. The band loves subtle melodies that transition into new ideas constantly, as well as emotive guitar solos and sweeping choruses.
Speaking of choruses, the band has added a second vocalist in Nicole Johnson. Here’s the thing: Danny has an instantly recognizable voice, one that I absolutely love. It is unusual and contains power and force, even casually. Nicole has a giant voice, though, one that will raise the hairs on your neck. Listening to the way Danny composed these songs, I think he knew that he couldn’t handle some of the towering choruses and sweeping vocal melodies. He’s a wise man, too, because their voices sound insanely good together. I especially love the moments where Danny’s voice comes flowing in with such vibrancy and clarity while Nicole’s emotional performance already has us hanging on every note.
The lyrics on Silence from Signals are noteworthy. The first album was about alien abduction. This record spills out of Danny’s heart on a more personal basis, though, relating to the birth of his second child and his concurrent firstborn child’s autism diagnosis. The album itself follows identical twins, one who is disabled and one who is not. The disabled boy finds life difficult and cruel, even from his own father, and he struggles to understand why the world is the way it is. So far as I can tell, though, the sister is a soothing balm to him. You have probably guessed that Danny voices the boy and Nicole voices the girl. Some of the best moments take place when they interact and connect.
I love this album. The songs are expressive with just the right amount of edge. I love the guitar work, the vocals, the drumming, everything. The two singles, “Wake Vortex” and “Sea of Tranquility”, are excellent, with the former being a grand and towering track with both complexity and simple melody in play. I adore Nicole’s chorus and Danny’s vocal lines for the verses. “Sea of Tranquility” is more of a ballad with gentle melodic accents and pining emotions. I love it, too.
There are even better tracks, though. “I Am Me. I Am Free.” is a tear-inducing mini-epic that takes its time to build, but when the guitar drive begins, the song really satisfies. “Prism Descent” is a gritty, spiraling track with fantastic guitars; you will definitely feel the need to headbang to this one. “Haptic Feedback” is similar, actually, though it has less drive and more hesitancy in how it flows. That makes sense, given the name. I really like the closer, too, called “Perfect Circles”. Rather than offering a heavy ending musically, the song hangs its coat on Danny and Nicole’s voices primarily as they converse and connect with feeling and reassurance. I love this subtle finishing touch.
The Paradox Twin might be one of the more underrated new bands out there. They have the chops to impress, yes, but their true might lies in their story telling, expression, and reservation. Every time I hear this album, it feels like hearing it for the first time; the music and lyrical content affect me greatly. This album will only continue to grow on me.
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