I’m beginning to find the entire ‘emo revival’ debate slightly tiresome, but if there was, or is a movement in progress then Two Knights are spearheading it. The bands past releases blew me away, last years A Lot Of Bad Things Have Happened, But We’re Still Here namely, and their debut full-length Shut Up builds upon the mature, technical emo of their last release whilst keeping the eclectic nature of the band’s music and piling on the emotion, making for a dazzling piece of art through and through.
There’s something about the music Two Knights play, in that there’s a slightly unnerving quality to it which is bolstered by an honest intensity. It exists in every song on Shut Up and shines through, providing an edge to the bands emotional outpourings and enhancing their impact. Shut Up is self-dissection with a pitchfork, and it sounds incredible. Take closer Major League Bullshit which begins with the lines ‘Just fucking listen / You can hear my brain ruin me with the truth I tried to bury because I’m too weak to face it / You left because of me’ after a sonic introduction, or Symphony For The Righteous Destruction Of Humanity, which is heart-breaking in its honesty as vocalist / guitarist Parker Lawson sings ‘I used to have these stupid fantasies where you’d fall in love with me and we’d make each other happy / Now I know that it could never happen because when reality sets in I am nothing to offer.’ Shut Up lays itself bare in the best way, and even though the tracks don’t allow for copious amounts of lyrical bleeding whatever does feature speaks volumes. There’s no filler to be found, with most of the tracks clocking in at less than or around two minutes, meaning that Two Knights deliver short and snappy songs that pack a punch despite ending almost as soon as they begin. Given their lengths each has a lot to offer, often starting subtle and ending on emotional highs as vocals strain and instrumentals surge, with tracks like It Doesn’t Matter Matt, I’m Never Going To Cast Boulderfall sounding huge as Lawson exorcises alongside equally powerful instrumentals.
Shut Up is a 9/10 for its song titles alone, and it’s quite an achievement that the content of said songs is just as brilliant. There’s a clear influence from bands like I Hate Myself in the vocals, whilst the technical instrumentals are reminiscent of early Maps & Atlases and hazy American Football, and although Two Knights’ sound isn’t particularly ground-breaking they use it to full effect. Dear God, This Parachute Is A Knapsack booms intermittently amidst twinkling melodies, rising to an empathic finish, whilst fourth track Clark Can’t churns instantly before switching to floating instrumentals, soon biting back with some of the records most aggressive vocals only to fade out yet again. Songs change pace with ease, dropping off or writhing forwards seemingly on a whim, dancing between explosive and euphonious, as is the case on third track Just Pick A Dead End And Chill Out ‘Til You Die which opens with a drifting intro and soon unravels to jaunty, weaving instrumentals. The lengthier Everything Will Kill You is a rollercoaster laced with a regretful nostalgia for missed opportunities, portraying this emotional turmoil through a number of moods, featuring slurred vocals and screams aplenty before a comforting embrace of a final minute. There’s a solace to be found in these calmer moments, but there’s also some relatable home-truths to be taken from the dynamic Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants (seriously, how great are these song titles?) as the line ‘I’ll never mean as much to you as you do to me’ is yelled out, striking a chord. Shut Up is an expansive and complex listen, which is even more commendable when you take into account that only two musicians created it. There’s a depth and scope to the tracks here that far surpasses what’s expected of two contributors, and it’s a testament to how much spirit Miles DeBruin and Parker Lawson pour in at every opportunity. Even in its more humbling moments there’s a life and energy that burns; a desire for self-expression through music, and you gather that without this outlet Two Knights would hold it all in until they inevitably implode like Lawson suggests he would on Dangerously. His wails and screams sound genuinely pained, conveying emotion through words with a clear personal meaning behind them, and in the softer moments he’s just as convincing, crooning over the delicate guitar harmonies he conjures up throughout. DeBruin gives just as much in a more instrumentally cathartic manner, complementing brilliantly regardless of the tone and more than making up for the absence of a bass guitarist. What’s abundantly clear is that Two Knights are a band with an immense amount of talent who channel every bit of it into their music, and the result is something very special indeed.
I seem to say it every time I review a release from Count Your Lucky Stars, but they sure know how to pick them. After last years The Albatross by Foxing I wasn’t sure if they’d put out a better record in 2014, but Shut Up has to go down as one of the year’s best releases so far. It isn’t quite as absorbingly odd as Still by Nouns, but it packs a punch in a way that the majority of artists could only dream of. There’s a multitude of reasons why I love music of this nature, and Two Knights seems to express each of them with enough quality to detract from anything else that doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as Shut Up does. Simply put, this record is extraordinary, and I wholly recommend it.
Rating – 9/10
Listen to: Just Pick A Dead End… / Divine Secrets…. / Major League Bullshit
Bandcamp / Stream Link: http://twoknights.bandcamp.com/album/shut-up
Buy the LP here: http://countyourluckystars.bigcartel.com/product/two-knights-shut-up-lp