Review of Wildbirds & Peacedrums album 'The Snake'.
I was a little ambivalent on my first listen to 'The Snake' - the minimalist aesthetic is the most apparent feature of the duo's approach, and initially seemed a little severe. However, as you get further into the record, though the minimalism remains, it yields to a warm musicality, inventiveness and deceptively disciplined songwriting.
Wildbirds and Peacedrums is a Swedish husband and wife team. They are both multi-instrumentalists, but on the whole, husband handles drums and percussion while wifey sings and plays other melodic instruments. (Including Zither, Marimba, Xylophone, Harmonica). The pair creates an intriguing variety of soundscapes. 'Island' opens the record with a collage of droning vocal lines supporting a sombre lyric which seems to be about someone swimming to Iceland. 'Chain of Steel' provides one of the record's most captivating and poppy moments. A melody skips its way around a marimba as the slightly silly chorus line sings 'She's got a hold on me, not in a tasty way. She's got a hold on me, in a nasty way.". Another highlight like this is in the second half of 'Great Lines', which is my most exciting section of the record. The zither, drums and vocal come together to give the part a rousing power. These songs, sitting against some of the record's more obtuse moments, give a nice roundness.
The benefit of Wildbirds and Peacedrums' spare approach to instrumentation is that to some extent, the listener can fill in the space according to their imagination. You can hear piano and horns with a jazz bias, or punkish abrasive guitar. This is an inventive, expressive and musically honest band. Their music could go anywhere, it feels like the only limitations they have are the organic restrictions any laptopless two piece would face. 'The Snake' is an accomplished record and an invigorating listen.