Subtle Sounds of Winter
Until Spring, the latest release from British indie rockers Wild Palms, is a somber, melancholic reflection on something in between. It’s the sound of winter into spring, a sound that vacillates from carefully crafted harmonies to disjointed, raw bursts of energy.
While this dynamism keeps things interesting, much of Until Spring gets lost in an atmospheric haze of fuzzy guitars and waves of distortion. The electronic effects on “Caretaker” are jarring after the smooth layers of melody on album opener “Draw in Light.” “Pale Fire” and “To the Lighthouse” suffer this fate too, as does “Carnations.” Lou Hill’s vocals are just a little too flat on “Carnations,” missing their emotive mark, and the instruments don’t fit together with the precise crafting evident on other tracks.
“Delight in Temptation” has a much more well-managed sound—layers of melodic instrumentation, doleful overlapping guitars and synths float above James Parish’s driving drums. Similar attention to detail is apparent on “LHC;” warm piano and echoing guitars slowly build up, sprawl out to include gentle, oscillating strings, and wind up with a big symphonic sound. “Swirling Shards” focuses less on melody, but its jaunty guitars and bass leave you in a kaleidoscopic whirl.
The album’s final track may be its best. Starting with Hill’s strongest vocal performance, “Not Wing Clippers” moves into a subtly upbeat rhythm, its playful bass and bouncing melodies shifting from the darkness of winter to the light of spring. It builds and builds as it looks forward, culminating in a big, fuzzy post-punk haze before subsiding into atmospheric echoes.
Until Spring is a work in progress, a process “never ceasing ever increasing,” as its eighth track proclaims. Wild Palms definitely have some flaws to iron out, but they’re on the way to creating something a little less in-between.