In dreams, we rarely know what we are running from or toward. We only know we must keep running, continue searching. Psychic Twin’s debut album, Strange Diary, lives in that state of surreal urgency. What’s in front of us or behind us can’t be described, but we are sure in our bones that what we are searching for exists just a few steps away. These songs are “dreamlike” in a more fundamental sense than that overused descriptor implies. They reflect the emotionally arduous and unpredictable journey that singer, songwriter, and composer Erin Fein took to creating them.
The making of Strange Diary spans four years and two states. Fein began writing and composing solo material in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. amid the dissolution of her marriage. Following the divorce, she relocated to Brooklyn, N.Y. and continued to write and record-despite lineup changes and the lonely disorientation that comes from shedding an old life and starting over. The album contains songs written before, during, and after the divorce, from both New York and Illinois. The subject of each song is an unnamed “you,” who she alternately pleads with and flees from. “These songs are 100% a diary of my life over the last four years,” says Fein.
Today, Psychic Twin’s evolution includes drummer Rosana Caban and Fein’s absorption of several sources of inspiration. While rooted in the avant pop of The Cocteau Twins, Siousxie, and Annie Lennox, contemporary production flourishes lend each song the clarity and buoyancy of contemporary pop. The music balances languid, dark melodies and atmosphere with propulsive rhythms and soaring vocal lines. It’s beautiful and catchy. It’s like the sound of someone reaching the end of that dream, finding what they’ve been searching for through all the haze.