posted on May 06, 2008 06:12
Review Snapshot: In terms of 'stripping it down' The White Stripes have nothing on Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Their concoction of enchanting vocals and variable drum sounds proves to be a unique listening experience. With minimal embellishment ( a double-tracked vocal here, a hint of glockenspiel there), Heartcore's fusion of swampblues, folk, rock and numerous other genres provides the year's most unexpected highlight to date.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
They say good things come to those who wait and in the case of the unfortunately named Wildbirds & Peacedrums it may well be true for all of us. Heartcore, the 2007 debut release from Swedish couple Marian Wallentin and Andreas Werliin, is winging its way to our stereos just as their sophomore album The Snake comes out in their homeland.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums left music college as they deemed its teachings to be 'too rigid' and on this evidence it's easy to see why. Werliin's stated mission is to convey as many different sounds and feelings through his drumset as is possible and it's only fair to say that he succeeds, providing backing on a collection of songs that run the gamut from blues, through rock, balladry, nu-folk and everything in between. But the real ace in the pack is Wallentin's voice. The recent spate of Dusty Springfield tribute acts (Duffy, Adele, Amy Wino yawn, yawn...) have nothing on her haunting, powerful wailing.
On opener 'Pony' she delivers a soulful vocal over a sparse acoustic motif, 'Bird' will remind many of fellow Scandanavian Bjork's acapella record Medulla, while the long gone cries of Blues singers such as Bessie Smith reverberate through 'The Ones That Should Save Me Get Me Down'. There are also moments where normality is thrown right out the window; 'Lost Love' defines freeform, but has nothing on 'A Story From A Chair', where one can be convinced they are overhearing the sounds emanating from a baby monitor.
Ironically, despite their willful creativity and experimentation, it is the two most conventional tracks that bear most fruit. Wallentin's more subtle approach pays enormous dividends on the serene, sparse beauty of 'I Can't Tell In His Eyes'. But 'The Battle In The Water' takes the biscuit, it's tale of murder unfolding as the tension heightens to tremendous effect.
The only snag with Heartcore may be that those who find vocal acrobatics distasteful could run for the hills, though if they endure the initial discomfort there are rewards to be found. This is a bewitching listen - they visit our shores soon (Crawdaddy, 11th May) - you are strongly urged to check them out.
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.