Just Two People making music sounds pretty standard doesn’t it? Except that Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough are no ordinary people. With their five-piece band Snakadaktal, they gathered a loyal following in the indie pop scene until the outfit broke up in 2014. But this did not stop the childhood friends from pursuing their dream of making music together. Now almost five years after the band split up, Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough release their debut LP First Body as the duo called Two People.
The nine-track album has been in the making for two years and the pre-release of demo tracks gained the outfit a contract with the Brooklyn based label Terrible Records. The almost entirely self-made record First Body is a standout debut packed with electronic beats and held together by Phoebe Lou’s incredibly smooth voice. The two artists turned an old Fitzroy room into their sacred temple of music making and creative freedom. One of the rarely invited guests Scottish star-producer Rodaidh McDonald, who also worked with The XX, helped them find their true voice on the opening track “I’m Tied to You”. The song is made up of a pulsating beat mixed with an irresistible saxophone tune in the background.
The sound of Two People is well thought out and mature and it shows that this duo has been experimenting with guitar and electronic piano tunes since their early teens. “In The Garden” is one of their oldest songs and started out with merely a guitar riff; nine years later it is a fully grown electronic melody with Phoebe Lou’s vocals echoing up and down the bars singing of a relationship, in which she was aching for space. Even though Joey Clough has improved his skill behind the DJ desk immensely, he still knows how to write a catchy melody on a six string. “Look At Each Other” starts with exactly that, before it seamlessly melts into a steady beat with floaty synth lines.
With a honey-like vocals and mellow beats the outfit draws analogies to fellow electronic indie artists like The XX. But on tracks like “It’s Late” or the upbeat “Something To Talk About” they also pour some stronger electronic influences into the mix, which remind me of another electronic duo, Antony & Cleopatra.
The nostalgic Ballad “Phone Call” is an ode to their teens, in which the two musicians were dating, and to a burned out young love. While the former uses some blue piano melodies and a minimal beat, “Give Me Order” features a proper drum kit heavy beat. The song dwells from a minimalistic verse to an orchestral chorus putting Phoebe Lou’s voice in the spotlight.
I can’t say which is more intriguing, Lou’s rich and smooth vocals or the versatile and experimental beats over which she pours out her lyrics targeting the most humane topics like faded love and struggling relationships. Joey Clough’s skill as a producer and composer is undeniable after listening to an EP packed with unique beats with a strong DIY feel.
Even though these two did not match in the dating world, they certainly do in the music scene. The musicians easily keep up with each other’s talent without upstaging one or the other. The outcome is an effortless sounding album, which yet pays so much attention to details; you might miss some at the first listen. First Body unfolds more and more with each track until it is a room filling work of music that moves the listener “physically and emotionally”.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
First Body is out now.