2:54 - 2:54 (Polydor)

2:54 – 2:54 (Polydor)


Do you ever listen to an album and try to describe it honestly, only to realise words fail you? I don’t mean in the sense that words cannot be found, but that the words that best describe what you have heard have become all messed up and misused by all those other eejits out there until their meaning is lost or, worse, made negative where previously they were more nuanced. Why is it so hard to say that 2:54’s self-titled debut album is a dirge in which all the songs sound the same without that sounding like a bad thing? It’s not. It really really is not.

The first problem is with “dirge” a word too often thrown around as a synonym for tedious and dull, but its proper meaning – funereal, mournful, a lament – is apt for an album which captures a mood of melancholy with ease and grace. Each song bears a strong resemblance to those around it, they all sound very similar if not quite the same, but does that need to be a bad thing? If I tell you that 2:54 is cohesive and hypnotic rather than repetitive then suddenly it is a good thing that it sounds samey. You wouldn’t want some hideous brostep breakdown or twee folk parp to interrupt the carefully constructed mood and atmosphere. The Thurlow sisters have clearly put a lot of time and polish into their band – right down to looking cooler than almost any other artists around at the moment – and they aren’t going to take their eyes off the ball with their debut long-player.

Of course it’s got a bit too much pop nous to be as truly funereal as it could be. Tracks like ‘You’re Early’, ‘Sugar’ and ‘Creeping’ sound like ringers for the stately seven minute grinds produced by True Widow (whose splendid As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth would surely have been last year’s most pretentiously named album if only Jay Z and Kanye hadn’t released Watch The Throne) sped up into four minute nuggets. This isn’t slowcore or drone rock, however much their name references The Melvins, but it does appropriate the fuzzy soup of rhythm guitars before dropping Hannah Thurlow’s intricate lead guitars over the top. These are one of the albums two main aces. The younger Thurlow sister’s talents are understated but impressive, her riffs glisten and sparkle, sometimes skittering around the corners of the sound (‘Ride’), sometimes teasing then roaring onto centre stage as on ‘Scarlet’s leap from twangy beginnings to howling squall, sometimes twisting sinuously around the rhythm as on ‘Creeping’. It’s this versatility which lends the album its variety – after a few listens the songs become much easier to tell apart by the riffs, the squeals, the judders which she sprinkles over the top. Perhaps the playing is too understated and coy for Hannah to be recognised as a proper guitar hero, which is a shame.

The other ace is much more obvious – singer Colette Thurlow’s voice. Sounding like a young Shirley Manson, Colette opts for sultry restraint for the most part, channelling Garbage’s darker, more brooding moments. Lyrically it’s most vague platitudes but when presented on a bed of velvet these lose their meaning and melt immaculately into the mood. The outro to ‘Ride’ where three layers of Thurlow simmer and steam at the object of the song’s sinister threat “I can put you back where I found you” perfectly captures that mixture of volatile sexuality and seductive charm which is too often missing from music. It’s no fluke, benign phrases transformed into the sinister threats through intonation alone litter the record. Colette is clearly not a woman to fuck with. Next time you hear another twee, slightly tuneless, fey-sounding girl vocalist exhaling an acoustic cover of a rock song over an advert think of Thurlow’s growl’n’purr and feel comforted that alternative exists (of course the other option is to vomit up your spleen in exasperation and smash your TV to pieces which is also a fair reaction).

So yeah, dirges made of elegance, beauty, thunder and threat. Every song sounds the same, asking you to dig down into their beautiful textures to find both difference and loveliness, an activity which is well worth the effort.

Now your humble scribe never had a sister, but this is one smart advert for sisters so if anyone fancies acquiring a sister (fully grown, teeth mostly her own), please apply and the lucky winner can come and listen to the sisterly charms of 2:54 with me.

Out now



God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.