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It's been thirteen long years of lying dormant since Owls released their first and only album back in 2001. While it's safe to say that vocalist Tim Kinsella's confirmation of the Chicago four-piece's reunion didn't quite raise the same excitement levels as the return of the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Pixies or My Bloody Valentine, there was a strong contingent of die-hard Kinsella brothers fans who lost their shit at the prospect of a new Owls record.

For those of you who don't quite get the fuss about a new Owls record, let's do the time warp back to 1989 when brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella formed Cap'n Jazz. Joined by Sam Zurick and Victor Villarreal, and with the later addition of Davey von Bohlen, the band garnered a cult following with their highly influential, spirited blend of noisy yet melodic emo, helping the still relatively underground concept of 'emo' wheedle its way out of the underground a little further by merging it with more accessible indie rock stylings. Dissolving in 1995, Cap'n Jazz's various members went on to form a number of equally influential outfits including Joan of Arc (Tim Kinsella), American Football (Mike Kinsella), The Promise Ring (von Bohlen) and Ghosts and Vodka (Villarreal and Zurick), before regrouping in 2001 (minus von Bohlen) to form Owls. Like a slowed down, strung-out Cap'n Jazz, Owls' sound was characterised by its exploratory, free jazz style song structures, obtuse guitar noodling and off-kilter vocals. Sadly, Owls imploded in 2002 after just one year of existence, recording one album with the legendary Steve Albini and giving fans the tiniest taste of what they could create before returning to their other endeavours.

So now we're up to speed with the rich tapestry that is the Owls lineage, perhaps it's a little clearer why, for devoted emo and indie rock fans, a new Owls record is a big deal. Though never quite straying into the mainstream, the brothers Kinsella have remained something of a cult anomaly and a huge influence on bands that fall under the umbrella of the 'emo' genre. They're the poster boys for obscure indie - the emo heroes it's cool to fawn over - and to many they can do no wrong. So it's a joy and a relief to find that the simply yet appropriately named Two lives up to expectations.

Quite spookily, Two picks up pretty much where their self-titled debut left-off, despite the thirteen year gap. Some would argue that there should be more notable signs of progression after such a long break - afterall, this is a different decade. That's not to say there are no signs of an evolution of sound on Two, but Owls were such a short-lived prospect back in the noughties that the fans were left with an unwhetted appetite. Two is Owls taking on their unfinished business; the sound of a band whose dynamic can stand the test of time and still sound as fresh as ever. Opener 'Four Works of Art...' is a slow-burning, lurching groove - Villarreal's guitar slicing slowly through the rattle before Tim Kinsella's alternating call and response high/low vocals create a moody juxtaposition. 'I'm Surprised...', the first album teaser released by the band, displays Kinsella's typically obscure lyrics: "I carry chocolate with me everywhere, I sing like a crooked seahorse, I float like a cello," he croons. A fairly sedate slacker-rock-esque jam, there's no trippy time signatures here, but the hypnotic interplay between Kinsella's vocals and Villarreal's riffs is evidence of an effortless, fits like a glove dynamic.

Songs such as 'The Lion...' and 'Why Oh Why...' jerk with the same jittery, anxious guitar lines Owls demonstrated thirteen years ago, with 'Why Oh Why...' in particular revisiting that sense of loose jazz improv that we'd expect to find skittering about in the background of an Owls track. It's not until four tracks in with 'This Must Be How...' that Owls kick up the tempo with some playful fretwork, while the mathy time signatures of 'I'll Never Be...' could sit comfortably on Owls. A fundamental example of the Owls ethos, 'I'll Never Be...' has the kind of wandering, unpredictable structure that gives the sense that the whole track could fall apart any minute. It sonically convulses and tightens, wonderfully ramshackle in it's erratic motions.

Although time hasn't changed Owls' sound too much, it seems to have lent them a new perspective: penultimate track 'Oh No, Don't...' and closer 'A Drop Of Blood...' display a new sense of aggression and directness that Owls lacked, ditching the twinkling for harder hitting drums and enveloping sheets of noise. Ending the record on a triumphant high-note, 'A Drop of Blood...' is a sprawling, darker number that is ironically, given the band's history, a lot closer to emo/alt-rock than free jazz. Perhaps it's a hint of what Owls still have left up their sleeve. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another thirteen years to hear what that is.