Record review: Winter People – A Year At Sea (2012, LP)

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Describing themselves as ‘post-industrial folk-rock’, Sydney’s Winter People make quite a variety of sounds on this debut long-player. As their name suggests, it isn’t summery pop music; but a grandiose, shiver-inducing set of songs on a level of scope and imagination bordering on majestic. A Year At Sea is an apt title, the band sounding so far removed from any current musical trend or style; The National are probably the only perceivable influence at work here. Boasting two violinists, five vocalists, and led by frontman Dylan Baskind’s understated vocals, the six-piece go from galloping folk-pop on ‘Gallons’, to mournful Western-tinged themes on ‘Valley Hymn’, and then a touch of brooding theatrics on ‘Afternoon Amnesiac’. The instrumentation is of the very highest quality throughout, as the songs are built up from bare vocals and single violins to epic, sprawling soundscapes filled with powerful drumming, pent-up emotion, and an unmistakeable originality. Closer ‘The Antidote’ is the perfect example of everything Winter People are capable of, starting with a solemn choral arrangement before adding layers of soaring strings and boy-girl harmonies, as an impressive amount of sustain is wrung out of an electric guitar. The vocal harmonies and violin plucking peppered throughout have a stirring beauty and mournful intrigue that reveal a little more on each listen, making this an album that is just as adept at evoking imagery of bleak landscapes in wintertime as it is at making you want to nod your head in enjoyment. If there is any justice in the world, these guys will be massive. (Hub The Label)

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