Britney Spears once said, “Anyone can sit down and write some boring artistic song; pop music is the hardest shit to write.” I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but The Twin Atlas, a Philadelphia duo featuring Sean Byrne (Lenola, Mazarin) and Luke Zaleski, with their mellow folk pop, make it seem easy. I say this because all 12 songs on Inside the Skate Scandal seem effortless in their catchiness and prettiness. With little more instrumentation than just guitar (usually acoustic) and keyboard, it’s fairly simple musically, but still nice to listen to. At first I found it to be rather boring, but it’s grown to be something very enjoyable.
The first track, “See That Happen,” uses a slick brush of guitar that is so pretty and nostalgic that I feel like I’ve heard it elsewhere before, while “Sound In Town” takes a more sonically interesting approach, with reverbed vibraphone and electric guitar. The next two songs are probably the most confident on the whole disc; “Legal Tender,” a B‑52s cover, does a successful job of turning that band’s brand of quirky party music into breezy acoustic pop-rock, and “Walk Right Up” features the album’s most memorable chorus, as well as electric guitar.
“Don’t Diss This Song” is a short instrumental song placed at the center of the album. It’s intended to add structure, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to diss it. Its echoing background vocals and throbbing rhythm don’t really add anything to the disc, and are worth skipping.
The second half of the disc opens strongly though, with “Calling For You,” a hand-clapping song with a chorus of pulsating electric guitar. “Plan To Erase” is the album’s longest song, featuring additional songwriting from Dave Grubb, and has backporch guitar plucking and harmonica.
The album ends with “It Will Pass,” a shimmering instrumental with throbbing bass and soaring pitch-bent guitar, and it’s the album’s only real rocker. It’s a wonderful end to a very good CD by a band that, if they managed to reach a wider audience, would probably be pretty popular. If Britney’s right about pop music, then these guys are a pretty talented duo.
Written by Richie DeMaria.