Widowspeak Widowspeak(Captured Tracks) Buy it from Insound
Essentially an Americana glo-fi jangle combo – think slow-moving 90s act Mazzy Star with weaker vocals and limited compositional skills – Brooklyn-based Widowspeak release their self-titled debut consisting specifically of a dreamy vintage sound using stripped-down drumbeats, delicately placed guitar and at times channelling 50s jukebox pop. All of this is a lovely gift to the ear however too many of the melodies are simply dull and forgettable, a problem exacerbated by the fact vocalist/guitarist Molly Hamilton’s uneventful smoky eyes-half-closed vocals start to sound emotionless and limiting upon repeated listens, and the basic sad-girl-singing-over-minor-chord-strum template growing tiresome in an awful hurry. The album does have one great strength: Guitarist Robert Thomas’ solid grasp of textures, and with swirling feedback and reverbed guitar tones, displays an ability to create atmospheres via folk picking, flawless lullaby arpeggios and harmonics, warm reverbed bent notes and intelligent interplay creating an end product far superior to the actual songs. The group's solid grasp of atmosphere and texture can't overcome the songs' distinctly unmemorable melodies most of which amble along with a lack of purpose.
Among the better moments are slow burn album opener Puritan, although there is nothing particularly jarring about their take on this 50s rock genre, and the ethereal indie rock of Fir Coat which is pleasant enough but you can’t help but wish that maybe it was a little warmer or if the sky wouldn’t mind clearing up just a bit in this entirely depressing affair. So too the perpetual lull of sleepy In the Pines and the slow burning, hazy Nightcrawlers - songs of longing for pine forests, reckless youth, homesickness and dark nights in strange cities, respectively. Single Gun Shy’s wooziness and jangly guitar are reminiscent of the spaghetti western twang, and ironically it’s a bonus track (Brain Freeze) that outshines everything else on the record by several country miles.
Beachy summer party/winter bummer wallpaper for your Bohemian café-bar and for the hipsters that frequent it, who like their pop music perfectly pleasant and non-threatening.14 September, 2011 - 13:00 — Pierce Brown