Lock & Key, the new EP from Los Angeles-based Twin Oaks, reveals itself to be an astonishingly beautiful and endlessly haunting collection of atmospheric ballads. The songs, created under the bleak shadow of the pandemic and in the isolation of quarantine, are gentle confessionals delivered via singer Lauren Brown’s piercing vocals — which range from soft quivers to powerfully roared cries. Multi-instrumentalist Aaron Domingo and drummer Marilyn Beltran round out the EP’s lush backing textures, which provide an eerily bleak and sonorous soundscape throughout its less-than twenty-minute run.
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“Luster,” a moody, slow-dance through groaning guitar strums that’s guided by Brown’s heartache; one that crescendos into this magnificent affirmation backed by those singed guitars. There’s hypnotism in Brown’s reflection of the melancholic and bittersweet, channeled gorgeously in her tired cooing. Like fellow singer/songwriters, Sharon Van Etten and Julien Baker, the songs of Twin Oaks are aided by the innate tenderness and understanding that Brown has for the dualities of hope and pain expressed throughout the EP.
“Open Hand” tumbles out of this tangle of an acoustic guitar melody, a dreamy and glowing recollection that Brown’s resounding croons fill; while on “I Was Never the Safest Bet,” Twin Oaks deliver one of the strongest ballads in their discography. Brown’s words echo the torturous end between two loves, the inevitable solemn retrospection/introspection that occurs right before the end — that heartbreaking desire to hitch all your secret flaws and fears to the reason it ended. Under the bleak reminder of our own mortality, “Funeral” attempts to confront this reality (one everyone has felt exposed to during the pandemic) with a simple request by Brown to play this song at her funeral for all her loved ones. Transforming into a subdued, danceable anthem that searches for meaning and love within the imagined loss, “Funeral” endeavors to see an encounter with death as a reminder of that person’s life, of the risks we took for the people we love.
“Thank you to everyone that’s stuck by with us and kept us going even through a very strange time,” Twin Oaks said of the EP. “Working on these songs has actually helped us maintain a positive mind while time all felt frozen. And a very huge thank you to Shaun Oppedisano who helped co-pilot and added all sorts of touches to breathe life into these songs.”
Listen to Twin Oaks’ new Lock & Key EP below!