Album Review: James Kruman’s ‘Twitch’


by James Fleming

Lo-fi Kraftwerk pulsations throb out of the speakers. An almost soothing baritone croons menacingly over the top. The distorted guitar chords, twisted and malformed, add a touch of psychedelic-garage to this dark track; ‘Barrel Bomb’.

An ear-worming mixture of Joy Division and Syd Barrett, Barrel Bomb doesn’t kick the album off into high gear. But, sets the tone of despair and slight-dementedness expertly. An enthralling opener, crafted with Dylan levels of precision, but not Dylan-esque, Barrel Bomb is a manifesto. A sonic statement of intent.

Originality isn’t on the radio in the 21st century. James Kruman’s Twitch should be on the radio. But, and pardon the cynicism, it’s far too good to ever get airplay.

At its best, it’s exciting in an emotional sense, stirring up and evoking emotions as it does. At its lowest, it’s still damn good.

There’s even a touch of humour on it; when Like A TV Ad ends abruptly at the 01:43 mark with a resigned “you interrupt me like a TV ad,” it’s the sort of joke Syd himself would have pulled. Like he did on Here I Go when he sang “kinda catchy,” as the song’s hook.

Mahalo Mahaylo’s Alex Turner-like vocals add a sense of place, and pride in that place, to Twitch. It’s a thoroughly English album this: eccentric, mournful, dark, exciting. Twitch is all of these things, and each of them compliments or contrasts with each other perfectly. The slightly increased tempo of Mahalo Mahaylo keeps things moving. Though far from immediate, it prevents the album from falling into the pitfall trap of mere moaning. Its dissonant synths clash with the strummed guitars in a unique manner, and add absorbing atmospherics to the tune, luring you in with beckoning finger.

Even a song like When The Darkness Comes, which from the title on down threatens to descend into a mere parody of blackness, transcends that with the inclusion of such tricks as an understated guitar solo in the style of the underrated Joey Santiago.

Even Country Sigh, which is pretty damn mournful, makes a fair stab at being hypnotic. A tough trick to pull off that. But, the repetitive guitar riff, in a sort of twisted English-folk vein, when combined with the synthesiser’s descending slides and atmospherics, grabs the attention enough to be described as ‘hypnotic.’

Twitch is the sort of melancholy album one can lose themselves in. Like a good film, it bears up to repeated listens. One can either lose themselves in just the simple sound of it, or they can bury themselves in a dissection of the music.

But, what that dissection truly reveals, is the great care and passion put in to the crafting of this record. Twitch is one of the finest albums to come out of the UK underground in quite a while.

Because, while all that noise-punk-rock is great. Every now and then you need something different. And that’s what Twitch is; different.

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