Todd & Erin

Steel Your Nerves EP

When we first set our ears on Todd & Erin last year, they appeared to arrive fully formed. Despite having met just months before, the Santa Barbara duo had already locked down a vision; their songs were bright, perfectly polished pop jams; their aesthetic was similarly crisp, if stylishly grunge-y around the edges. On Steel Your Nerves, the pair continues to crank out pumped-up pop anthems clearly aimed for the dance floor. And as on their debut, the tracks here are tightly knit affairs with strong hooks and big, bright melodies. Lyrically, though, Steel Your Nerves is hit-and-miss, often relying on grand-scale production tricks in place of actual content. Case in point: “All I Can Think About Is You,” which would carry the weight of Ellie Goulding’s boldest torch song if only someone had bothered to continue writing after they named the thing. As such, Nerves’ strongest offering also ends up being its sore-thumb moment, the mid-album highlight “Hate.” With Erin in lead-vocal mode against a gently plucked acoustic, this backward-looking little love song boasts some of the EP’s most complex and skillfully delivered vocal melodies, perhaps suggesting that scaling back may be the thing that propels these two forward.