Release Date: Nov 11, 2014
Record label: The Leaf Label
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
Review Summary: The Swedish duo fuse infectious art pop with primal minimalism on their thrilling new album.Swedish husband and wife duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums are aware that sometimes less is more. On their fourth aptly titled full-length Rhythm they strip back their sound to bare essentials. Only vocals and percussion sparsely augmented with bass lines signal the minimalist approach that captures the intensity of the duo's live shows.
If Wildbirds & Peacedrums' music had to be described with one word, it would be Rhythm, and the duo's fourth album delivers all the power and complexity suggested by its title. Following the success of 2010's expansive, experimental Rivers, Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin embarked on a long string of performances that honed their already powerful live act. Inspired, they pared Rhythm's songs down to the most vital aspects of their music: vocals and percussion.
Sometimes albums are made as a wholly conscious reaction to their immediate predecessors. Think of R.E.M.’s abrupt return to full throttle rock on Accelerate after the tepid Around The Sun, or of Hot Chip’s concise, focused and bright pop album One Life Stand following the sprawling, brilliantly digressive Made In The Dark. Rhythm might well be Swedish drums and vocal duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums’ ‘reaction’ album.
Swedish husband-and-wife duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums echo the format laid down by drummer Budgie and singer Siouxsie as the Creatures three decades ago. Andreas Werliin’s drum motifs provide the startling backdrop for Mariam Wallentin’s bird-like vocal swoops and cries. Almost five years since the duo’s last effort, they have stripped everything down even further, ditching additional layers from steel drums to pump organs for just an occasional extra bang on a cowbell, and the nine songs here were each recorded in one take.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. As an introduction for the uninitiated, Wildbirds & Peacedrums - a Gothenburg duo comprising married couple Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin - are widely incomparable to other bands, on a fundamental level at least, on the basis that they largely eschew traditional instrumentation in favour of a straightforward, although certainly unconventional, vocals and percussion setup. It's crucial to point out that this is something that in no way seems contrived, or an effort to present themselves as having - and I hate to use this phrase - a unique selling point; they're experimental musicians, and such an unusual take on composition and performance is merely an extension of that fact.
We’ve seen some guitar and drums duos. Bass and drums have been known to make up the line-up in its entirety, too. A record where the only musical element - alongside vocals - is percussion, however: that’s a new one. Rhythm couldn't be further removed from the type of novelty project or punishingly 'arty' undertaking that the stripped-to-the-bone premise might suggest.