Album Review: Song Sung – This Ascension is Ours

[Night Time Stories; 2020]

Irish identical twins Georgina and Una McGeough came to the New York art scene by way of Monaghan, a small town near the border of Northern Ireland. As Song Sung, they make hazy, atmospheric dream pop that blends echoes of Beach House and the Cocteau Twins with their own unique approach. Working with producer David Holmes (Ocean’s 11, Killing Eve), the pair have crafted a hypnotic debut more than four years in the making that’s not to be missed.

Georgina has spoken about the duo’s unorthodox music-making processes: “Our first apartment in the East Village, was located above a bar and our back room was situated directly above the DJ booth. This is going to sound ridiculous, but it’s true, we started making melodies over the bass of the tracks coming through the floor from the bar below.” This particular anecdote feels quite apparent on opener “Come To The Water”, which finds the twins’ layered vocals atop reverberating basslines and drum machines. In some other universe, this could be a girl group anthem: “I only see you from a distance / I only hear about you when you’re gone / I still think of you at dusk and dawn.” Against the lo-fi haze of spacy synths and crunchy drums, the effect is intoxicating.

“Telling Tales” is a compelling follow-up, with swirling synths, punchy drums and a wash of vocals. Even when the lyrics are unintelligible, the music feels deeply vivid. Georgina and Una sing in unison for the majority of the album, and their ability to match up their ever-so-slightly distinct voices feels trippy and surreal. This secret weapon is used to great effect on tracks like “Somewhere”, which incorporates a harp loop into its dreamy soundscape. The McGeoughs describe fleeting images—“Somewhere in that deep dark sea / I see your reflection / Looking back at me”—before drifting into wordless vocalizations.

This Ascension Is Ours’ greatest strength is its fully immersive atmosphere, yet the sisters display an admirable amount of range without breaking this consistency. “Take Some Time”, for example, feels almost frenetic with its thick, crackling textures, layered harmonies, and kick drums. This contrasts with a song like “Testimony of Tears” ,a more spacious and pensive track that one can sink into rather than be consumed by.

At 55 minutes, This Ascension Is Ours occasionally feels a bit longer than it needs to be. While it makes sense that these enveloping and densely layered tracks should last upwards of five or six minutes each, perhaps one or two songs could have been cut in order for the album to avoid overstaying its welcome, even if only slightly. But there are far worse ways to spend an hour than getting lost in the McGeough sisters’ mesmerizing sonic landscapes. Overall, This Ascension Is Ours is a strong debut from an intriguing duo with a lot of promise.