Like a young child growing up, Erin Fein has nursed and watched her dream-pop project Psychic Twin mature. First conceived in 2010, Fein revealed Psychic Twin to the world in 2013 in a subtle yet explosive way. Her split single debut, featuring “Strangers” and “Dream State”, showcased a woman who deftly bridged reality with the dreamworld, much like what Beach House, Grimes, and Poliça had achieved. Now three years later, Fein is finally back.
Her debut album is the aptly titled Strange Diary, which is an extension of “Strangers” and encapsulates the thirty-six months before her efforts. Just like her first two singles, Strange Diary is precise and meticulous in its execution and as beautiful and dazzling. Where it differs, however, is in its depth, which can be attributed to the addition of Rosana Caban on drums and backup vocals. Caban’s pacing and rhythms provide the fertile grounds for Fein’s lush production and vocals to flourish. Her soft voice, meanwhile, is the perfect foil to Fein, providing a light haze to Fein’s stunning falsetto.
The song that perfectly showcases the chemistry between the two is the hypnotic “Running in the Dark”. Fein’s voice and production are entrancing while Caban’s drumming offers an edginess to this song about losing someone. The track radiates of New York City legend Frankie Rose, who blended stark atmospherics with dazzling electronica. A similar formula is applied to “Stop In Time” and “Unlock Yr Heart” with the duo leaning towards ’80s darkwave. The former is a gorgeous, heart stopper while the latter is spellbinding.
The album’s strength, though, lies in Psychic Twin’s more shimmering and vibrant numbers, where Fein’s voice fully takes centre stage and the musical takes on the personality of carnival. “Hopeless (I Won’t Take Part of You)” is absolutely dazzling. It has the dizzying and euphoric feel of the giant swing, where all that is felt is the cool breeze and the pure joy that comes with being suspended in air.
The previously mentioned “Strangers” gets a slight makeover. It’s a little heavier, a bit groovier, but just as exhilarating like your favorite roller coaster. Caban’s presence is noticeable, as her voice seamlessly meshes with Fein’s. The song, itself, perfectly fits within the context of Strange Diary, as Fein sings about two partners who have grown further apart. “Strangers” is essentially the opening pages of the album, setting up the album’s prevailing messages of isolation, separation, disappointment, and memory.
But there is a moment of hope and optimism, as heard on “Lose Myself”. The song is a tour-de-force. The bass and drums take on the tone of pounding heart beat. Meanwhile, the synths and Fein’s voice incessantly swirl underneath the percussion. Together the track is a spectacle that is immersive and engrossing. It is like watching a beautiful film unfold before your eyes, where nothing can interrupt this breathtaking experience.
“Lose Myself” in many ways encapsulates what Psychic Twin have achieved with Strange Diary. Just as you think you have heard it all before, Fein and Caban surprise by offering something unexpected. Whether it’s with textures, the rhythms, or the dramatic build, each song grabs your attention. More importantly, though, the two – particularly Fein – have made a synth-pop and ambient electronic LP with whom everyone can relate. Now we understand why it took Fein three years to craft Psychic Twin’s debut album. It is not so much the intricacies of the music and production; she has poured her entire self into Strange Diary.
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