For Twinsmith, the occasion to make a third album came with an opportunity to distill their process down to its essential parts, and to re-focus the band’s perspective in order to fully embrace their sound. Longtime friends Jordan Smith and Matt Regner had written a pair of records as Twinsmith, starting with 2013’s self-titled debut and then 2015’s Alligator Years – which earned press attention from outlets including NPR Music’s All Songs Considered, Interview, NYLON (‘Band Crush’), and Culture Collide, among others. While the lineup would grow to include bassist Bill Sharp and other hired guns to round out the stage, the songwriting core learned to vary their approach while relying on each other to push the plot forward. Starting as DIY tinkerers in a basement, Smith and Regner would evolve their sound from hazy surf rock to a fuller, more dynamic guitar-and-keys pop appeal, making good use of the perks like recording studios and engineers that often come with progress. But as it came time to begin again for a new album, they found themselves looking back to the beginning, stripping back their process and recording in the dining room of their house using old synths and ‘80s drum machines.
Produced by friend and Omaha neighbor Graham Ulicny (Reptar, The Faint), this limitation on personnel would remain the only thing strict during the process. By removing distractions and relying on their own prowess, as well as pealing back the sound to create shorter, more direct songs, Twinsmith found that this laid back approach allowed them to focus on the same goals and to create something entirely for themselves. “The main goal was to make something a bit more personal to us,” Smith says. “The last album was kind of in-your-face pop music and that’s why we made this so short and sweet; we wanted listeners to hear the small, distinct sounds we were working on. Because there were only a few people involved, we could make our decisions more directly. We wanted to make something we could use to relate to a bigger mass and bring people back.”
Stripping the words, the music, and the players down to their raw parts, Twinsmith have created a work of confident determination. Melodies soar and rhythms sway, the beats pulse with a laid back but urgent immediacy, and the simplicity of it all stitches the songs together in its mysterious way. From the simple three-color design of the cover to the process that created the sounds underneath, Stay Cool rewards with its ability to connect.