Smoke Fairies have produced a rather atypical Christmas album this season, focusing on more on the dark, the melancholy, the bittersweet aspects of the holiday. Wild Winter isn’t as morose as that might sound though: it carries both complementary sides of winter, the bleak and the bright. On Full Time Hobby, white vinyl only from independent stores!
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- Wild Winter by Smoke Fairies
7/10 Robin Staff review, 17 November 2015
Wilderness dream duo Smoke Fairies have been releasing a strand of lethargic music to the world for a while now, their head-scratching sound leaving their audience (AKA me, their audience’s foil) wondering if they’re listening to mood music or pop songs. On ‘Wild Winter’, their melodies are tautly confined around strictly produced and performed arrangements; on early track “Steal Softly Thru Snow”, a rework of an old Captain Beefheart song, they wind his unwindable song into a particular structure where wonderful vocal harmonies suddenly halt for percussive snaps.
Considering their hazy and often dreamy musical ambitions, Smoke Fairies have never sounded more like they’re working to a regiment; “3 Kings” grazes through oscillating guitar abstractions, but they’re pushed to the backdrop as simple choruses take over and a standard-fare rhythm carries the band amicably forward. Which is fine, by the way: Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies sound full of clarity on this record, creating one of their most propulsive records in the widescreen panorama it deserves.
The super-clean guitar tone of “Circles In The Snow” is elegiac; the initially mumbling electronics of title track “Wild Winter” are amplified with a crystalline riff and beaming synth; the vocals of “So Much Wine” are laid as bare and confrontational as an epic Majical Cloudz cut. This record feels almost too shiny for impact, but there’s good music flowing through it. Also it's Christmas so I guess it doesn't actually matter; please open your presents with kindness.
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