Melbourne emotional-punk quartet Two Steps On The Water are set to release their second full-length Sword Songs on Friday, September 29th. Ahead of which, the entire release is available to stream in full from today via Rolling Stone Australia.
Recalling the striking rawness of Jordaan Mason's 2009 Divorce Lawyers opus, Sword Songs is led by it's contrast of sparsity and sudden jolts; and the way in which both sides interact with the centrepiece vocals of June Jones, who quivers like Sunset Rubdown-era Spencer Krug ahead of rising splashes of commanding confidence. Surrounding which, violins sway into scenes of paused silence ("Camouflage"), mere guitar plucks are provided as partner ("Can I Not?") and crudely cut country-bluegrass samples are shoved to the side ("Sword II").
Elsewhere, the cluttered, chaotic composition of "Bolt of Lightning" transforms Jones into a possessed preacher, while choirs take us to a similarly-evangelical space on "A Very Hot Shower". But it's when the most obvious path is taken that the band's unique sound proves most effective, as with standout "Hold Me", where Jones' emotional strain is partnered with elongated organ notes and a wailing violin, while an occasional duet serves as the required crutches to carry us through the powerful, emotionally palpable track.
On the thematic focus of the LP, June says it ended up being an unintentional concept album, explaining that "when you write songs from your experience, and there are a couple of themes that keep coming up, you might end up making something like that."
"I guess it was always going to encapsulate a time in my life," June told Rolling Stone. "We wrote these songs throughout 2016, which was my second year of being out as a trans woman, and our second year of playing together as a band. While our first album described various emotional states that I felt, back when being publicly trans was sort of new and shocking, Sword Songs shows what comes after those feelings."
June adds that while the tracks on Sword Songs "feel more empowered", she says she also feels "that can come across as bitterness at times", explaining that the album is "a bit of a spit in the face of a world that would rather certain groups of people feel afraid instead of welcome."
"It describes the swords that a person faces as well as the swords that they craft in order to feel safe. These are personal songs that I have written in times of stress, sadness, or anger. It's a personal album, but I hope that people can find something in it that is hopeful or empowering to them. I know I'm not the only scared, sad, angry, and traumatised person in this world. I do not want to speak on behalf of anyone else, but if we can make the music scene a more honest place then I will feel like we have done our job."
Following the release of Sword Songs, Two Steps On The Water will play a pair of launch shows — October 5th at The Bird in Perth and at Melbourne's The Howler on October 13th.
Topics: Two Steps On The Water