REVIEW: Two Steps On The Water - Having Pop Punk Feelings In A Country-Western Body

Written By Rei Barker on 01/05/2016

It’s a rare and beautiful thing to find artists that can find a way to transpose raw emotion into song, let alone capture that in recorded music. Being the reclusive hermit that I am, I haven’t had the fortune of seeing TSOTW live yet, but having heard very good things from those I trust, I entered the realm of listening to their EP with good expectations, despite my dislike of guitar-based music in general. When I say good things, I mean constant things. TSOTW have been working their arses off this year and really got their name out into Melbourne’s harsh, overpopulated soundscape.

It is my love of overproduced synth music and the comparison between what I subject myself to, and TSOTW’s stripped back, feelings-laden jams that I found something beautiful. Raw, emotive vocals that struck a chord (cos it’s music, get it?) with me. Perhaps being dead inside helps with that, as lyrics about loneliness and lovelessness and such makes the blood in my 14 year old in a 29 year old’s heart boil then choke up as a single cliched tear drips down my cheek. The second way occurred on the fourth listen, as I was doing cleaning with HPPFIANCWB on in the background. I listened to the music as the sum of its parts, blended together without applying my ‘professional’ critical ear, not so much the lyrics but the vocal cadence and delivery. Oh yes, and the tone. Without the lyrics, the emotive power was still there - vocal ebbs and flows, yelps and screams, and gentle whispers moving through my body and soul, whipping, jarring and caressing me.

It feels arbitrary to give a detailed breakdown of the production/instrumentation/song structure so I won’t. Know this - they named the EP well. Even though I would have appreciated a deliberate misnomer and delighted at being smacked with the last track being hardstyle or something, it really is a ‘what it says on the tin’ sitch.

Regardless of your genre-inclinations, something important has happened here. Humans have marshalled their emotions and successfully made them into music. I have heard enough boring -four dudes with a rock setup’ to be bored as shit with so much new music and, while I enjoy a feelgood number as much as the next, sometimes you want something that’s gonna make you cry. Listen to it. It won’t be played on triple j (JUST COS WINK WINK), or I hope so at least, so get it here and see them live. Hassle me to as well.

2015 was a great year for visibility of trans artists in Australian music, at least in my line of sight. It’s been great to watch communities, groups, bands and fans stand up for visibility, awareness, safer spaces and the fact that yes, humans that don’t fit into convenient boxes exist and are making great music. I can’t speak for anyone but myself here but I hope that continues. Hey, even some major publicly-owned stations might realise exclusion sucks. Who knows? <3