Winter People: A Year At Sea
- There's a lot to like about Sydney's Winter People, literally, they've got six members, after all. Nearly every one of them does more than one thing, too: be it their five vocalist chorus or a violinist tinkling on the xylophone (that doesn't sound quite right), they've got a lot of scope for creatingy a wide variety of sounds. They do, too. You don't encounter many bands who successfully meddle with indie-rock, folk and pop, alt-country and post-rock too.
Amazingly they seem to do it best in a live environment, I caught them at last week's Bigsound Live, where with virtually no soundcheck they nailed their set. I hadn't really had a chance to listen to their forthcoming debut, A Year At Sea, but I dived right into it after that little half-hour taster. It's pretty fine, let me tell you.
Hell, I don't really need to, many folks will already be well-familiar with songs like Wishingbone, melding perky indie-pop rhythms with trad-folk and country harmonies and a core of thrumming indie-rock power. It stands distinct from the darkly powerful indie-rocking of Gallons with it's apocalyptic imagery and free-flowing poison. Lyricist and frontman Dylan Baskind does like to pen bleak pictures, the trend is continued on latest single Two's Company, an ode to drinking and isolation: "Loneliness / You're such a dependable friend / When the party's over / You always stick around / To watch me coming down."
The misery is given a powerful edge by the meaty orchestration: when the guitars, violins, bass and drums and whatever else happens to be on hand start to go for it, which is regularly, it feels like someone's called in Explosions In The Sky for an artillery strike directly on your ears. The album, despite this grim power, manages a deal of colour and variation: the (relatively) soft country of Afternoon Amnesiac and positively sparse country-folk of Top Of The World, there's plenty to keep your attention.
My favourite has to be the deceptively sweet lilt of the album's closer, The Antidote. Dylan croons the end of love, smothered in his own darkness: "Oh babe, you didn't think / That your little heart / Was the antidote...", and the music builds to a crushing, proggy climax. Genius. Winter People's debut, A Year At Sea, is every bit as striking as folks imagined it would be.
- Chris Cobcroft.