In early February, Providence-based indie rock band Twin Foxes released Broken Bell. The 11-track project weaves together work created over the past two years, revealing a narrative that has been given space and time to write itself out. While some albums are created in short bursts of creative impulses, this effort took the longview.
“In some ways, the recording process helped create the common thread,” says songwriter Jared Mann. “They were a batch of songs from completely random sessions. There was no direct timeline or deadline, and that was intentional. When you’re limited on time, you end up recording drums, bass, and guitars for the whole record in a couple days. This method leaves less room for experimentation. Our last record was recorded almost surgically so it was really fun to do almost the complete opposite on this one, essentially writing as I was recording. Trying different ideas and seeing what sticks.”
While other musicians collaborated on this record, including Andrew Fortin on bass, percussionist Carlos Molina, Trevor White, and Alex Yontz and Cindy Marszalkowski on backing vocals, the majority of the songs were created and played by Mann himself in his home studio in North Smithfield, Distorted Forest. “Recording in the moment is originally how I learned to record, write songs, and play different instruments, so in a lot of ways, it was fun to revert back to that,” muses Mann.
With a sound reminiscent of vintage Bright Eyes colluding with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, The Antlers, and Brand New, Broken Bell carries an introspective sound and ruminating quality. Tracks feel loose yet challenging, with vocal melodies, recorded interludes and instrumentation that feels organic and loosely improvisational, capturing that feeling of excitement that comes with jamming a song for the first time or recording a first take. It has an effortlessness that balances the heavier sonic nature of the record. It feels deep without trying too hard to get there.
With uncertainty about how best to return to live venues and how best to present live art, many musicians are putting more energy into the creation and presentation of full records, aimed at creating a private listening experience. With Broken Bell, Twin Foxes takes this approach, setting up a GoFundMe to produce the record on vinyl.
“We’ve been lucky to have vinyl for all our other releases so far,” says Mann, “but this year, without playing any shows in 2020 and our label Midnight Werewolf having less resources after a year of setbacks, it just felt like the best move to not delay the record any further. Vinyl is really important to us. It’s the whole package, sonically and design-wise. You get the full artwork and lyrics. When you work on something like this, so much blood and sweat goes into it, you want to present it in a complete way.” Learn more at TwinFoxes.Bandcamp.com