Range Anxiety is a solid effort from Melbourne foursome Twerps. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the band’s second LP is thirteen songs deep and ranges from the simple, contemplative opener ‘House Keys’ to the very full-sounding ‘Empty Road’. It’s a well-rounded project; however, after an initial spin, as the final twangs of guitar faded at the climax, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was left with. Certainly, the album features a thoughtful spread of material, but is there anything that sticks?
In fact, there’s lots, but you might have to give it a couple of listens. Range Anxiety steams out of ‘House Keys’ and gathers some serious momentum for four or five songs, all of which are very good. ‘I Don’t Mind’ is a confidently lackadaisical beach box jam whose lyrics are pleasantly framed by airy guitar riffs; it’s a song of sullen cheerfulness and easy ambivalence, laid-back enough to provoke a lazy smile without summoning any cheese or false optimism. Here, and also on ‘Back To You’ and ‘Stranger’, Twerps are revealed. There’s emotional depth but very little clandestinity, and their combination of evocative lyrics and bubbly melodies makes for great listening while operating an interesting paradox: the music on Range Anxiety is sentimental and merry and discontented and lazy and energetic and generic and free, all at the same time.
"It’s generic, but it’s not banal; it’s charming, but not captivating".
‘Shoulders’, which is the seventh track, is a bit of a speed bump for me. In comparison to the preceding numbers it sounds a bit flat and seems to lack conviction and cohesion. However, ‘Simple Feelings’, which follows, immediately picks up the slack, yawning bass and fluttering riffs and zesty spatters of drums all propelling Range Anxiety into its second half. Therein, we encounter the excellent ‘Fern Murderers’, a moody potion of electric piano, crooning guitar and distant drums that marks one of the highest points of the album for me.
Range Anxiety winds down through ‘Cheap Education’, a vibrant pop tune, and ‘Love at First Sight’, a slightly overcooked slow jam, to ‘Empty Road’, which closes the record well. The scattered drums lend it a certain anxiety of its own but it’s also a very satisfying listen: a molten bassline and a striking guitar riff await, the latter of which sounds nostalgically reminiscent of ‘Demon Days’ by Gorillaz.
Vocalists Marty Frawley and Jules McFarlane share the mic evenly throughout the venture and it lends the LP a sense of balance and togetherness. I really dig how distinct and authentic McFarlane’s accent remains when she sings. Overall, it’s a good album that will grow on you the more you spin it. It’s generic, but it’s not banal; it’s charming, but not captivating. Some might see these as shortcomings, but I don’t think Twerps need to correct much at all. Range Anxiety is refreshing because it isn’t pretentious, it knows its lane, and it’s cautiously satisfied with that.