Even before Colette and Hannah Thurlow wrote their new album, the London-based sisters’ atmospheric, imaginative and thrilling vein of rock music under the name 2:54 was already a force to be reckoned with. But the events that tested their commitment and resilience have upped the ante, to produce the magnificent drama and beauty of The Other I. From the expansive, tempo-shifting opener ‘Orion’, and the pining roots of ‘The Monaco’ to the ambient haunts of ‘Tender Shoots’ and the shape-shifting tour de force of ‘Raptor’, the album significantly widens the net beyond the achievements of 2:54’s self-titled debut. The Other I is all the stronger for Hannah and Colette’s hands-on approach to production while Colette’s lead vocals show a striking versatility. The album’s emotional terrain has been carved from circumstances out of their control but equally their sisterly bond.
As Colette explains, the album’s title was inspired by a favourite poet, Percy Shelley, “a rousing romantic, politically charged, a proto-punk of sorts. He called his friend and muse Elizabeth Hitchener the ‘sister of my soul, my second self.’ These lines kept returning to me last year and from there I arrived at ‘The Other I’. The Other I is an enquiry into the duality of the human experience – the division between the self that pounds on like a juggernaut in your head, and the self you present to the world. The idea extends to Hannah and I, to our sisterhood. We know intrinsically what the other thinks and feels, music is just another language we use to communicate.”
Written in Paris and London, the album was recorded at Bella Union’s East London studio before the Thurlows and Alex Robins decamped to North London’s Fish Factory to complete it alongside co-producer and mixer James Rutledge, who’s worked with the likes of Radiohead and Fever Ray. ‘In The Mirror’ and ‘Sleepwalker’ are cited as key entry points to the album’s core values, while lyrically ‘Orion’ sets the scene for the album’s adventures. ‘Raptor’ is the album’s brilliant finale, with its simmering intro, hypnotic flow, thrilling coda and rallying mantra: “Calling, I’m calling, I’m calling, I can hear it / You don’t know us / One more turn and then I’ll go / The end, the end, the end is close.”