Widowspeak - Almanac

Widowspeak - Almanac
Album Reviews

Don’t you dare write them off as mere Mazzy Star wannabes.



Label: Captured Tracks
Released: 11th February 2013
Reviewer: Huw Oliver
Examine Almanac’s whimsical, bucolic artwork and you’d be forgiven for assuming that this might be some sort of Fairport Convention covers record. It’s not, and in spite of its release on NYC’s marvellous Captured Tracks imprint, nor is it your standard, harmless dream-pop album. Instead, this duo manages to beat the usual Beach-Boys-fan-boy formulae of their label-mates into a fine and splendid pulp. It’s magnificent, eerie, and really quite something.

Based around the partnership of Rob (guitars) and Molly (vocals), the band knits ominous vocal croons together with fire-starting guitar hooks, and their melodies are drenched in feedback and gangling, swirling guitar lines. But don’t you dare write them off as mere Mazzy Star wannabes. Just try to take in their sinister hooks and wallow along to their truly remarkable song-writing. And don’t get too bogged down amid all the other influences you can hear. Yes, there’s something suggestive of the Sundays in ‘Minnewaska’, of Fleetwood Mac in ‘Ballad Of The Golden Hour’, and of Dum Dum Girls in ‘Sore Eyes’. But when it sounds this fantastic, why shouldn’t bands wear their influences on their sleeve?

They met in Brooklyn, and it’s the prevailing oppression of the Big Apple which seems to form the basis of their coarse, harsh aesthetic and hazily-delivered lyrics, from the glorious, arpeggiating ‘The Dark Age’ through to the booming, suave ‘Devil Knows’. The centre-piece, though, is ‘Perennials’, an epic, gentle, rolling number with grooves and psychedelic keys. Indeed, it opens an LP with a sound which is way more audacious than the one we heard on last year’s self-titled album. No surprise, perhaps, given it was recorded under the aegis of Kevin McMahon, acclaimed producer of Swans’ 'The Seer' and Titus Andronicus’ 'The Monitor'. All in all, seemingly indebted to many, this is a band equipped with new-found confidence, poise and an incredibly impressive sophomore effort.
Rating: 8/10
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