The Born In The 2000s crowd has been making their presence heard and felt on the charts with acts like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo taking the music world by storm. With the release of evil twin, his latest EP, Isaac Dunbar looks poised to join them at the top of the food chain.
A swirling tornado of disarmingly honest lyricism and adventurous bedroom pop production, evil twin is one of the most arresting and original projects of 2021 so far. There is a distinctly teenage feeling around evil twin. At just 17, Isaac is at the perfect age to accurately capture how every emotion feels heightened in adolescence. While his peers may parlay this phenomenon through their lyrics, Isaac has found a way to tell this story through both his production and songwriting. On “Pink Party,” the project’s opening track, he shape-shifts through nu-metal, rock, alternative, hip-hop, and pop as he works his way through separating the scenarios and love stories in his imagination from his reality. Isaac moves between whispering and screaming on this decidedly left-field track that basically functions as a bait-and-switch by the time the following songs have their turn in the spotlight. The instant standout from the EP and potentially his breakout radio single, “Fan Behavior,” featuring production from Jason Evigan (“Physical”; “Something’s Got To Give”) and Cirkut (“Dark Horse”; “Wrecking Ball”), is one of the best songs of 2021 so far. With its catchy melody and hums as ad-libs, comparisons will surely be drawn between “Fan Behavior” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.” Regardless, this song is its own special kind of genius. Of course, the explosive euphoric hook does its job well, but there are two key moments that really elevate “Fan Behavior.” First, the line “It’s fan behavior, you’re a fan/As a result of my cold demeanor” is perfect because of how applicable it is. Isaac could be talking about obsessive tendencies in some romantic relationships, or he could be making a larger commentary on how people are drawn to things that aren’t good or aren’t good for them. The second moment is the belt at the end. Isaac may favor whispery vocal performances, but the kid can definitely sing when he wants to.
“Fan Behavior” leads nicely into “Rendezvous,” a smooth fusion of trap and PC music that doubles as an Auto-Tuned ballad. This EP could very well be categorized as a breakup record. Whether Isaac is working through an actual breakup or a breakup with an idealized version of love is the question that grounds evil twin. “Intimate Moments” is another smart song. With a descriptor like “intimate,” one may expect softer and more subdued instrumentation to match that vulnerability. Instead, Isaac flips everything on its head and goes for a borderline histrionic combination of robust drums, string arrangements, and a sweeping melody. The music is anything but intimate which makes it the perfect template for lyrics like “I have a fear of intimate moments/If you’re around, why am I down?” to be juxtaposed against. On “Love, Or The Lack Thereof,” Isaac sings “I’ll tell myself you’ll always want me/You say I think too much but I thought you were mine, love.” This line encapsulates the way Isaac writes love songs. Not everything is a cotton candy “Teenage Dream” land; Isaac writes and sings about all the inner conflict and despair that can come along with, and as a result of, love. Evil Twin is a spectacular effort. With obvious room to grow, it doesn’t feel real that Isaac is so in tune with his own artistry and vision at such a young age. Keep an eye out on the Hot 100 for “Fan Behavior.”
Key Tracks: “Fan Behavior” | “The World & All Her Pearls” | “Love, Or The Lack Thereof”