Album Review: All Tvvins – IIVV

By on Monday, 15th August 2016 at 12:00 pm

All Tvvins IIVV album coverWho in our readership enjoys math rock? Who within that group remembers Adebisi Shank and Cast of Cheers? If so, this is the album for you. ‘IIVV’ is the debut album by Irish duo All Tvvins. Released last week on Warner Brother Records, it is packed full of anthemic choruses and guitar riffs unimaginable within the world of pop, creating a new brand of synthpop suitable for rockers. You must be thinking, synthpop for rockers? Yeah okay… But once you hear the history of the band, it will all become clear.

When Adebisi Shank unfortunately announced their split and played their final two shows in Dublin the same year, guitarist Lar Kaye teamed up with Conor Adams, former singer and guitarist for Cast of Cheers, to form what we now know as All Tvvins. Almost instantly, the pair gathered attention from a wide-ranging audience around Ireland. Within 1 year of forming, the pair were signed to Sargent House Records (And So I Watch You From Afar, Mylets). I had the immense pleasure of catching one of the duo’s first ever-gigs in a small bar called McHughes in Belfast in 2014. I was instantly hooked and now, just 2 years later, they are signed to one of the biggest labels in the industry and have released their long anticipated debut album.

The album begins with a song the pair only previously released via a live session video from The Meadows studio in Dublin. ‘Book’ is essentially an introduction to All Tvvins and a snapshot of what they do best: produce catchy, gritty, powerful synthpop, whilst somehow keeping things guitar-orientated. Kaye’s strong, heavily rhythmic guitar riff acts as the main feature, taking the place of a top line and a chorus. This proves a common feature throughout the album, where the chorus isn’t a traditional chorus with memorable lyrics and a catchy melody, but the return of a potent riff and all elements of the music gluing perfectly together.


‘Thank You’ follows ‘Book’ in the track listing and continues this trend. However, this time, a bass riff is utilised instead of guitar, which is supported brilliantly by a pre-established huge, simple drum groove. This paves the way for Adams’ bass line, soaked in chorus, to continue as a prominent feature, carrying the fundamental harmony of the song as well as strengthening the vocal melody. Essentially, ‘Thank You’ is two rockers from Dublin taking on common subject matter: relationships. With lyrics like “did I want to be awake all night / surely that would end in another fight” and “I feel no love for you, I feel no pain for you” it’s easy to see a scene of emotional abuse. As the track progresses, Adams cleverly blends lyrics from the verse and those from the chorus together to construct an inner conversation with oneself as the relationship crumbles. Only after they are relieved of the despair can they profess their thanks.

The first three tracks of the album ooze upbeat feels and memorable lyrics emanating playfulness, with a hint of vigour and adrenaline to them. However, by the time we reach the midpoint, passing the Foals-inspired ‘End of the Day’ and meaningful ‘The Call’, we reach a more serious side of All Tvvins, shown on ‘Too Young to Live’ and Darkest Ocean’.


With its Temper Trap-style guitar part and a Kate Bush-influenced drum groove, it was inevitable ‘Darkest Ocean’ would be a single for All Tvvins. In its form prior to this album, the song carried a lot more body and grit, so much so that the lyrics to the pre-chorus seemed more like an order than merely a lyric. But with the new team of producers, including Cam Blackwood (George Ezra) and Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys), the production acts as an instrument in itself. Clean, smooth guitars which are intertwined with some warm pads and samples shimmer across a tight and punchy low end. This provides the perfect ornamentation for a beautiful instrumental, which is glued together by the short, rhythmic phrases of Adams’ swarthy vocals.

As we travel towards the end of the album, the emotions lift to present a sense of accomplishment. Uplifting choruses and encouraging lyrics from tracks such as ‘These 4 Words’ and ‘Unbelievable’ create a perfect end to the album. At first I felt they were the weaker tracks on the album. However, after a few consecutive listens, I finally fully appreciated them. The attention to detail put into ‘Unbelievable’ in instrumentation and use of sonic space is incredible. With very little accompaniment, the track is heavily based around the drum groove and of course the lyrics, somet that without a doubt will be screamed back at the pair at every gig.

‘IIVV’ combines the attitude and drive of guitar-orientated pop/rock with the groove and intricacies of synth.pop. All Tvvins have created something very fresh and invigorating, paving the way for a new breed of pop.


‘IIVV’ is out now on Warner Brothers. All Tvvins embark on a European and UK tour this autumn, which you can find the dates for here. Make sure to check them out live if they come through your town. They are not to be missed.


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