“We don’t make music, it makes us. That’s just the way it is,” explains guitarist Miran Gurunian. Perhaps what makes Pindoll’s new album, Twisted Times, so prodigious is the genuine autonomy of their music and the universality of their lyrics coupled with diverse melodies in a finished sound that undeniably epitomizes our “twisted times." Relying on a heavy aesthetic of ‘music for the sake of music,’ the band has created an album reminiscent of something that belongs at the top of the alternative rock charts with a 90's edge but contemporary flavor, drawing elements from a diverse pool of genres including ska, cabaret, grunge, and metal, with strong, jazzy undertones, and even a few oriental beats here and there.

Pindoll began as merely a creative outlet between friends, with no intention of becoming a band. It wasn’t until 2011 that Gurunian, along with lead singer Erin Makaelian, bassist Chris Reslan, and drummer Jad Aoud, banded together to form Pindoll. Yet even then, they were known as a cover band, taking songs and thoroughly manipulating them, creating an almost entirely new concoction in a style that is fervently apparent throughout Twisted Times.

Despite releasing an EP in 2011 consisting solely of covers, original material was being created from the very start. “Usually, the recording process is: write, record, play. With us, it was different. We were already preforming our [original] songs before even thinking of releasing them,” said Gurunian. This, he claims, gave them an advantage because the music went through an extensive amount of fine-tuning before it was released; the band took into consideration audience response during live shows and played on that in the creation of the final edit. “The songs grew older with us before we went into the studio to record them,” says Gurunian.

The making of the album was more of a “musical exchange” than anything, with each musician in the band bringing in their own unique twist to the mix. The struggle, however, was putting it all together to create one entity, one song and one aesthetic. The final product was by no means a single-minded creation but a massive group effort. It was, “sitting down with your friends, with coffee and cigarettes, and just talking about it, it being whatever it was you were listening to or doing at the time,” explained Gurunian.

Understandably, the times we, as a globalized, collective generation are experiencing had a huge impact on the making of the album. “We are connected, yet disconnected. In times like ours, reality is not imposed, it is perceived and constructed by you through what you choose to see and hear, regardless of the context,” Gurunian told Beirut.com. The song, "Hidden Silence," for example, superficially appears to chronicle a love story between a woman and a man who is in the midst of fighting in a war zone, yet the concept of fighting itself, what was once defined as man-to-man combat, has become such a “weird, undefinable notion,” in our technology infused world. “There is a plurality of experience that denotes everyday life.” A plurality that is, indeed, very strongly represented in the album. Take, for example, the title track, "Twisted Times": there is an almost eerie juxtaposition between Mikaelian's carefree tone and childlike innocence, and what it is she’s actually saying: “Oh, no, all is lost.”

Despite being just under three minutes, "Twisted" emerges as the standout track of the album. Starting off with an energetic, crisp beat and a distorted, muffled guitar that shifts from soft strums to rough sweeps, the song perfectly balances between a sweet, captivating melody and a sort of cabaret-inspired sound. Another enthralling track is "Absence," which is quite the deviation from the rest of the album. A soft and melancholic start transitions drastically midway through the song to a spunky, wild sound with buoyant guitar strings and a strong bass. "Keep Walking" is also bound to be a favorite for listeners, eliciting a 1920s jazz aesthetic, while "Fed Up," on the other hand, is a straight up Radiohead/Nirvana/Portishead lovechild – and it doesn’t get much better than that.

The very best of Pindoll comes out when you see the band perform during a live show. The album allows you to ruminate and meditate on the intricate sounds and complexities of the music, but the theatricality of Pindoll onstage is what makes them such a truly formidable force. Mikaelian croons and physically twists with the lyrics as she sings, "things will be just fine if you get rid of your mind,” with the song "Fed Up." “Erin goes up on stage and acts a part, she does not simply sing. She acts out the music,” says Gurunian. Her cabaret-like moves, different for every persona she creates, as well as her megaphone, which makes a surprise appearance every now and then, produces this inexplicable atmosphere that wholly captivates the audience throughout the show.

You can check out the Twisted Times album on Soundcloud and if you're eager to see them perform live, let's just say you won't be disappointed if you show up at a certain surprise gig slated to happen this Friday, March 21 at Radio Beirut.

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