May 22, 2003

The Twin Atlas "Inside the Skate Scandal"

A long time ago, Pale Saints mastermind Ian Masters got together with His Name is Alive's Warn Defever and they produced a wonderful one-off project called ESP Summer. It blended acoustic guitar and soft gentle electronic hiss with the distinctive and lovely voice of Masters, creating a warm, summery vibe. I never thought anyone would ever reach those heights again, but Inside The Skate Scandal certainly does! I have to say that ever since this record showed up in my mailbox, hardly a day has gone by that I've not listened to it. Not that I was really much of a fan of The Twin Atlas before; in fact, I kind of lost my taste for that whole psych-rock movement a few years ago. As these guys have a history in the Philly scene, they've been around (mainly Sean Byrne, who is/was in Lenola and Mazarin) for years, but The Twin Atlas is a whole 'nother story.

Inside the Skate Scandal is actually the scraps left over from their previous album, a record which I have yet to hear, but if these are the outtakes, then the previous release is either really, really good or really really not. Still, my enthusiasm for them is not reliant on what their past records sounded like, we're in the here and now, mind you, and it's pretty damn impressive. Kicking off with "See That Happen," the duo turns the A/C down to 70, shuts the blinds, turns off the lights, lights up some incense...and, well, you know...participates in stuff. Not that we condone it or anything, but if you know what I'm talking about, you know how pretty darn special it can be. Inside the Skate Scandal is one mellow affair. From the intro, the duo just proceed to get..very..very..hazy. Hazy in the way that Daydream Nation was hazy. There's a cover of the B-52's "Legal Tender" in here, you wouldn't know it was a cover lest you looked at the cover. The rest of the record? I dunno, man--it just kind of blurs all into this one..real..good..affair. Then again, I don't think I'd want to examine this record piecemeal, or single out one track in particular.

Inside the Skate Scandal is a record that's very simple in design; there's no dramatic change of style or formula, and it never hurries along. The Twin Atlas just take time to smell the flowers, and they smell..real...goood. Miight not win awards for being the most original or innovative or particularly new-sounding record, but darned if The Twin Atlas won't be contender for the most heady album of the year. Inside the Skate Scandal will have you watching the clouds in your head for many listens to come.

--Joseph Kyle

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