12twentyone describe themselves as a band of 4 colorful crazy girls that have a passion for creating their own brand of music and stories music which people can relate to in order to understand them and get a bit of goosebumps along the way. In reality, they’re a whole lot more than just that. Christelle Ch, Wendi Polanco, Jerica Magat and Mariam El-Rifai understand each feeling they imbue into their music so wholeheartedly that it’s completely genuine — if it wasn’t, we would know.
Due to this raw emotion on display and the unwavering nature of their convictions, their music immediately has a credibility that is lacking in many of their contemporaries. Musically, they’re not doing anything elaborate, it is still basically pop-infused indie music, but the storytelling and the emotion in the vocals sets it higher than the typical output in their genre.
It is this credibility combined with solid songwriting that allows 12twentyone to transcend the boundaries between being just another Pop band designed for mass consumption and credible artists making a creative statement.
Few other female groups make me feel as uniformly comfortable as 12twentyone does. Their voices and acoustic-guitar driven soundscapes are like a warm embrace from a loved one. Their sound is inexplicably trustworthy and inviting.
If there’s any proof that there’s good in us as a species, it’s somewhere in the music 12twentyone produces. A song, like their latest single, “Different” seems focused on one very singular and powerful feeling, which it instantly manages to get it just right for the listener to process.
Perhaps the most arresting thing about , “Different” is the sustained atmosphere throughout – with just the use of their beautiful voices and simply strummed acoustic guitars, 12twentyone create an underlying warmth and calm that wraps the entire deeply pondering track up like a blanket on a cold winter’s night.
There are so many conflicting feelings of fascination, love, fear, hope, and apprehension, at once all so unified and palpable. Each line and emotion piles on top of each other until the song collapses into a devastating confession of self-doubt: “I’m not the best to impress, out of fear of being less. I don’t open up, I can’t seem to trust. I tend to give up. I’m not the best.”
There’s no grand statement here, it’s simply about us and our emotion. “Different” unashamedly reminds us what it is to feel, to love, and to be human. And how while all three of these things may be hard and fearful, each one of them is absolutely worth it, if we just learn not to give up on them.
Despite the talent, the songwriting, and the stunningly captivating vocals, in the end, music has to have passion, or it will just seem to be going through the motions. And passion is one thing these Montreal based young ladies deliver in spades.
There was a time, in the not too distant past, when being in a girl band meant synchronized hip-thrusting to loud music, and pretending that you were actually friends, while wearing sexy matching micro outfits. Not so anymore. Girl bands can now be what they want to be, and do it their own way. And this looks exactly like what 12twentyone are doing right now.