The work of Tim Cohen and Jon Bernson for their primary musical outlets (The Fresh & Onlys and Exray’s, respectively) demonstrates each musicians’ knack for pop clarity and realized song-structure. To arrive there, Cohen gravitates towards rock instrumentation while Bernson employs synthesized sounds. Their collaboration as Window Twins finds the duo drawing from both schools of performance, only saturating the instrumentation in dense, lo-fidelity production that makes it difficult to differentiate. The emphasis on Wish is clearly creating a cohesive mood. While structures are intact and melodies are present, albeit obscured, Cohen and Bernson aspire towards an ambiance of down-trodden psychedelia. Each performer has a known affinity for the home recording process, but Window Twins allows them to spotlight their manipulation of that process as brightly as any instrument. In Cohen’s case, such experimentalism isn’t constructive for the current, refined approach of The Fresh & Onlys. Here, he is liberated to fulfill his most experimental recording proclivities.
Live drums, programmed beats, Wurlitzer organ, guitar, horns and synthesizers operate together as different aspects of one texture. The most impressive aspect of the instrumentation is two-fold. It cultivates a texture that defies our expectations of electronic beats with warm recording. Conversely, it engages listeners by alternating unexpectedly into a live drum solo introduction for “Wine into Winter,” or a staccato brass section harmony on “Different Light” without warning.
For “Thunder and Lightning,” as the title might imply with its seemingly telling nod to vintage dub, meandering bass lines and intermittent horns are underpinned by a reggae beat that devolves into dark dub for an arresting bridge. “Others” is the album’s most energetic track and effective use of its unusual instrumentation. It begins with a surprisingly straight-forward electric guitar lead before a galloping snare beat abruptly appears. Organ, piano, peripheral tambourine and an eerie Theremin congeal beneath a repetitive chant about being mindful to “others in the world.”
While the vocals are as heavily soaked as the music, the emotive skill of each singer permeates the mix. While there is plenty of fodder for discussion in the cyclical grooves, eclectic instrumentation and murky production; the strongest moments of Wish aren’t contingent on the instruments or studio trickery, but rather the inventiveness of the singing. The production is consistently pleasant, but with the vocals removed it might become soporific. Luckily, both vocal performances are assertively mixed. Particularly on “Two Left Feet,” Cohen and Bernson slide along a sinuous synth line directly into listener’s skulls where they coo together in a hushed ritual. Skillfully harmonizing and interacting with one another’s voices, they also heed the conversational and narrative nature of the lyrics with tactful vocal delivery. The result is the Wish’s absolute highlight.