Australian college rockers Twerps are slackers in XL Freaks and Geeks army jackets. They rack up street cred for their despondent pleasantries. They swap stories in short sentences. After giving non-commercial radio stations a field day with their self-titled debut, Twerps are back to enjoy the final weeks of college on Range Anxiety, toasting tall boys in the warmth of a late May sun.
For those who complain about Real Estate’s predictability, Twerps are a breath of fresh air. On “New Moves”, melodic guitars dance around one another, inciting a playful fight before the chorus carries them through to the soft twinkle of “White as Snow”. That song succinctly encapsulates the record’s indecision, grogginess, and nostalgia. Twerps are a blend of foot-propped relaxation, sunny melodies, and emphatic sentiments, and they’re just levelheaded enough to make jangle pop numbers like “Cheap Education” work with undeniable energy.
Where many college rock bands struggle to find a voice of their own, Twerps singer-guitarist Martin Frawley isn’t afraid to get inventive. The slow crawl of “I Don’t Mind” suggests a bank robbery, while “Back to You” twists a hangover into a metaphor for relationships. Twerps hinge their slacker lounge rock on ripe stories, and the saccharine melodies are worth the cavities they tempt.
When the album is over, though, it’s difficult to recall what exactly is forked over. Frawley sings with monotone sighs on closer “Empty Road”, repeating: “That’s when I knew/ I was following you” like an inebriated, lovestruck 20-year-old lying flat on a friend’s bed. It’s a brilliant number dragged down by “Adrenaline” and “Shoulders”, where Twerps can’t seem to cut ties with mediocrity.
Still, their fortitude deserves an appreciative nod. Frawley narrates his daily life in the album’s trailer: “I think it’s fair to say that in rock ‘n’ roll there’s a lot of spare time, and I spend a lot of that time drinking,” he says. “Quite a lot of the time, it is by myself.” There’s a bitterness to his words, like he can’t quite decide if that outcome is worth applauding, but his sincerity is too real to swat away. Twerps aren’t going to waste your time with melodrama. Range Anxiety is an album of endearing earnestness and jangly charm, and it will stand on your doorstep asking to come inside and chill for a while.
Essential Tracks: “I Don’t Mind”, “White as Snow”, and “Cheap Education”