Review: Taxi Taxi! – Still Standing At Your Back Door
(Posted at TheLineofBestFit.com)
The only conclusion I can come to is that there’s something in Sweden’s water – what else explains the onslaught of indie-pop precociousness currently flooding across the Baltic Sea in droves? If you hadn’t finished reeling over golden-voiced 15 & 17 year old sisters Johanna and Klara, from the eponymous First Aid Kit, or the gaggle of excitable high school girls that make up Those Dancing Days, then be prepared to be knocked off your feet once more – Swedish twins (!) Johanna & Miriam are just 18, and as cute as the proverbial button. At the age of nine, Johanna and Miriam began playing songs together for fun, writing some of the songs that make up ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’ while studying for exams. By fifteen, they had posted a few demos on MySpace, and were receiving national airplay across their native Sweden. After gaining considerable interest through a handful of EPs and a couple of demos, the sisters have released their debut album, ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’ (Produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn & John) through excellent Scandinavian label Rumraket.
Despite their precociousness, the twins are no Miley Cyrus-style brats- ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’ is a work of almost frightening maturity, and considering the age of the persons involved, it’s enough to make you feel horribly underproductive– although the album does get off to a slight false start. Opener ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’; is a grey, shoe-gazey, dreary number; lethargic guitar chords and muted percussion shift shape aimlessly over the twin’s layered vocals – mature it might be, but it’s also incredibly downbeat, with none of the winsome melodiousness of their peers. You would be forgiven for wondering if the twins have eschewed youthful joie de vivre for this monotonous bleakness in an attempt to avoid being pigeonholed – however, it’s all uphill from here, and the twins finally shift into a style that is far more palatable with the gorgeous single ‘Old Big Trees’; the twin’s coos of ‘Bachelor, oh bachelor’ over rich, shifting cadences and waltzing percussion is simply divine.
False start aside, from here on in ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’ is a lush, rustic treasure – most of the songs here are succinct, lilting cadences, such as the swooning, horn-propelled romanticism of ‘His Heart of Mine’, or the bell-laden ‘All I Think Of’. However, the clear album highlight is the stunning ‘While I Hold onto The Cliff’; its swirling strings encircle the sweet, accordion-laced melody, while the twins wearily recount lyrics of romantic misfortunes– ‘When I told you, you walked away/ You are the only one who makes me want to stay’. The twins embody a certain olde-worlde, Joanna Newsom-esque renaissance which is rife in today’s folk scene – and although it may not be original, it’s highly appealing.
Taxi Taxi! may be a duo, but ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’ enlists the help of a talented number of bit players, and the twins use them to their full effect, showing they’re not afraid to experiment a little with their instrumentation on the clickety-clack, Beirut-style percussion on ‘Ripest Fruit’ and the fragmented oom-pah band on ‘Old Big Trees’.
The instrumentation may be unashamedly lush, but the twin’s voices may be a breaking point for some listeners – although undeniably strong, the twin’s voices have a high, girlish, slightly-nasal quality, reminiscent of an accented Meredith Godreau from Gregory & The Hawk. However, on ‘Still Standing at Your Back Door’, their voices are far from an overwhelming presence- they side-step the dangers of becoming too saccharine, and are refreshingly unaffected.
Overall, this is a warm, autumnal gem of an album, and the folk fold are sure to welcome Taxi Taxi! with open arms – However (without this sounding like a disapproving, ‘kids these days’, Daily Mail-style barrage) there is such a thing as being too mature – the twins may be old souls, but even they would benefit from acting their age once in a while, and their coos of ‘And more mature than ever, I’m thinking about marriage and kids’ on ‘More Childish Than In A Long Time’ are downright unsettling.