Melody Monday: David Thaxton makes the jump from musical theatre to alternative rock with Unborn Twin

David Thaxton and Kris Winser of Unborn Twin, at London's Bush Hall, April 2012.

David Thaxton and Kris Winser of Unborn Twin, at London’s Bush Hall, April 2012.

Most fans of London theatre are probably in some capacity familiar with David Thaxton, either for his time as Enjolras in the West End production of Les Misérables or for his Olivier-winning performance in Passion, but unless they’ve been keeping their eye on him, there’s a chance that they haven’t had a glimpse of his current endeavour as a rock musician in a band called Unborn Twin.  Helmed by the songwriting of Thaxton and Matt Moore (who have been collaborating since they were seventeen), Unborn Twin is made up of five musicians who have been friends since their schoolyard days.

With David Thaxton on vocals, brothers Matt and Adam Moore on guitar, Kris Winser on bass, and Lloyd Stringer on drums, the band put out their first release, a five-track EP entitled Distort and Merge in February 2012, followed by two other singles, “Suffer This” and “The Greater Good.”  Now, following the release of their newest single, “Let’s All Look Away” in February, Unborn Twin is working on their first album while doing concerts throughout the year.

While the music of Unborn Twin is far from the musical theatre sound that many fans of Thaxton’s theatre work might be used to hearing from him, don’t be intimidated by the name.  If you’re a fan of Radiohead, or even of singer Thom Yorke’s solo work, chances are that you’ll find something to appreciate in Unborn Twin.  Thaxton and Moore cite Radiohead (along with Pink Floyd, Massive Attack and Muse) as a major influence on their work and it shows in both their writing and their sound.

Their newest single, “Let’s All Look Away,” is one of my favorite tracks by the band, and it comes from the song’s perfect sense of balance.  The slightly eerie recurring chords and baseline meshes seamlessly with Thaxton’s vocals, which echo the same bleak, slightly mournful sound that the instruments bring to the track.  Even once the pace picks up in the last third of the song and the vocals shift to match it, there is still something less than cheerful about the song which brings to mind a distinctly post-apocalyptic landscape.  Perhaps it’s in the lyrics, which contain lines such as “Always ends the same, the same conclusion to a different game” – it’s not exactly chipper, but the effect it produces in the song is interesting, especially given the relatively short lyric.

However, they’re not all bleak sounds and depressing lyrics either, and the track “Positive,” from their Distort and Merge EP is an almost sweet-sounding, wistful song sprinkled with tinkling guitar strings and ethereal vocals.  The lyrics echo the wistfulness of the instruments and vocals, with lyrics such as “Tired of words I don’t believe, / This isn’t real, I wanna sleep. / Thinking out loud, dead on my feet. / This is a dream, I am asleep” spinning the story of a narrator who simply wishes to, for once, have complete peace of mind and to escape from the world.  The end effect is a rather soothing song that achieves the same drifting feeling that the song’s narrator seems to be wishing for.

While American fans may not be able to make it to any of Unborn Twin’s gigs this year, as they are exclusively in the UK currently, and mostly in and around London at that, there’s no reason to feel left out!  All of their music is currently available for download from Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes on both sides of the pond.

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