Though the MonaLisa Twins proclaim themselves carriers of the ’60s torch for a new generation, don’t expect them to hearken back to the Crystals or Ronettes. Instead, the sisters (actual twins named Mona and Lisa) possess a sound more akin to the Hamburg Beatles or Australian pop-rockers the Easybeats. And, for them, the mettle of their material starts with solid songwriting. Say the 19-year-old Austrians, “We aim to write songs which we, ourselves, would like to listen to; we always loved the spiritual, humorous and true-to-life mindset of the 60s. However, we aren’t nostalgic about it or trying to be ‘retro.’ We simply believe that something great started in that era that is worthy of being continued.”
Their debut album of original material, When We’re Together, runs the gamut from sweet, harmonic duets (“All About Falling In Love”) to barroom jams (“This Boy Is Mine”), all reminiscent of a style not seen on Top 40 charts for decades. Where the lyrics are a bit simple, the arrangement fills in the gaps. Likewise, the ladies are careful to not muddy up words with over-instrumentation. The record may not be as extroverted as the Twins’ contemporaries’, but it sounds fresh and current, even though it was released last year.
The Twins, still culling new singles, released a video for “I Don’t Know Birds That Well” in November. (It’s worth noting that their YouTube channel boasts over 2 million views and thousands of organic followers from all over the world.) Perhaps the most enchanting part of the video isn’t the catchy, ukelele-laden song, but the soaring sights of an ancient church in Abbotsbury Village, England, as if the video was shot, appropriately, from the perspective of said birds. What looks like CGI is actually the footage from an Octocopter on a perfectly pristine day. Don’t let the stunning visuals distract you from a great song, though; instead, appreciate the scenery as the girls sing about how birds truly know how to be free.
The duo’s story is a likely tale these days: they began covering pop songs on YouTube and, after an enthusiastic reception from viewers, decided to make music their full-time job. Now mainstays on Austrian radio, they’ve performed all over mainland Europe and are now targeting the UK and US. Riding on the backs of megastars like Mumford & Sons, the MonaLisa Twins’ unique rock-tinged pop/folk tunes are likely to glide into the mainstream. It’s admirable that they don’t want to be labeled as retro, but it’s honest to say that they are. And it’s great.