Two Headed Girl
(Not on Label)
The world is overwhelming. It always has been, and as change occurs while time marches forward, it will only continue to grow more so. The variables attached to the human experience stack higher and more uneasily each day, but the way we feel about these things is rarely compartmentalized on an individual basis. Two different situations may evoke very similar emotional responses, and trying to untangle the web of how you feel about certain things affects how you feel about others is unmanageable. On Resonation, Two Headed Girl introspect through abstract poeticism in order to parse through their feelings on both the series of devastating events and political turmoils in Puerto Rico today, as well as past traumas. The catch: it all bleeds together. It’s one and the same. It ‘resonates’.
Resonation takes on another meaning when considering Two Headed Girl are identical twins Angelica & Celeste Padua. Under most circumstances, there are no two people more likely to resonate with each other. Both sisters share vocal duties and it can be nigh impossible to distinguish their voices: when they harmonize, it’s one voice, echoed. This helps to establish a stabilizing and confident grounding force amidst the pain and confusion that surrounds them: their reinforcement of each other is what gives them strength to work through these complex emotions.
“Don’t Be Sc*red” is a punchy opening number given more power by the tension it builds up during its verses, looping a noodly technical riff punctuated by a series of quick chords before the pressure bursts at the chorus. The lyrics immediately introduce a potential double-meaning: “You think I don’t notice when you’re in a room / But all I ever envision is you / Wipe the stains from my eyes / But at least we tried”. At face value, this seems apparently about the heartbreak of a strained or failed relationship and very well might be just that. However, one might consider that it may refer to the sisters’ relationship to Puerto Rico. Topics such as the failure of the US government to provide relief following Hurricane Maria, or the revolt that led to the resignation of former governor Ricardo Rosselló, aren’t addressed directly in the lyrics, so we can only make inferences. Based in Connecticut, the sisters are not residents of Puerto Rico, so at the very least, their experience with recent happenings is from the outside looking in. Digging perhaps too deep, the song could be understood as an acknowledgement of Puerto Rico’s suffering despite not residing there, as well as an attempt to encourage, despite understanding “it’s not that simple, it’s never that easy”. Whether done with deliberate intent or not, the fact that we’re compelled to analyze such a possibility provides “Don’t Be Sc*red” and the rest of Resonation with a depth you can lose yourself in.
“Bayamón” is easier to connect to Puerto Rico, largely due to its namesake: a principality devastated by Maria. The lyrics here are largely in Spanish, and while the song adheres to a similar quiet-loud structure as “Don’t Be Sc*red” (relaxed passages of Latin-flavored jazz juxtaposed with rushes of ska punk in this case), it’s more chaotic, more tumultuous, with the saxophone solo shortly before the three-minute-mark the climactic moment of madness. “Get Slow”, conversely, feels more directly tied to the interpersonal relationship aspect, painting a narrative of conflict between lovers who see the dynamic of their relationship in conflicting ways. It feels like the ‘hit’ of the record in a way: more distilled and immediate with its catchy guitar hook and vocal melody, and the drums demand attention with the power they display.
“Resonating” only directly comes up on “Soft Kill”: “Resonating in its emptiness / The grain of better days / Takes me back / It wasn’t the taste it was the feeling”, the “it” being “the low hum of everything”. The idea here seems to be the ’emptiness’ of the world infecting us and making us dead inside, then passing on that feeling to the people we care about unintentionally (“I’ll poison you too / But never on purpose”). The verses are the prettiest the EP gets, with bright, clean, twinkling guitar melodies.
Resonation closes on its most ‘punk’ song in “BANE”, with heavy, distorted guitars, shouted vocals, and drums out of a hardcore track. Like “Don’t Be Sc*red”, it feels as though it could be political, personal, or both, with lyrics referring to cutting through strings and doomsday closed out with repeated “Did I know her long ago?”s.
I’d be lying if I said I fully understood every message that Resonation puts forth. That might just be for the Paduas alone. Nevertheless, the way it draws you in and forces you to think about feelings and how they apply similarly to different situations is compelling. This is a great set of tunes I can only see growing on me more as my understanding of them does.
Favorite tracks: “Don’t Be Sc*red”, “Get Slow”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
CDs of Two Headed Girl’s Resonation are sold out, but you can still buy the EP digitally here.