Album Reviews

Snowblink – Long Live

(Fire) UK release date: 8 November 2010

Fighting out of San Francisco for a number of years but now decamped to Toronto, Snowblink are a duo whose day in the sun has been some time coming: this, their debut LP, generated such pre-release buzz that it made a number of 2008’s best-of-year listings, but it is only now, some two years later, seeing the light of day.

The band – generally comprising of just Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman – have a Broken Social Scene-style history of line-ups and collaborations that have seen them take on co-conspirators from the likes of MGMT, Au Revoir Simone and Ron Sexsmith to Owen Pallett, Patti Smith and Feist.

It is the output of Canadian songstress Feist, indeed, that Snowblink’s sound resembles most closely: Gesundheit, her voice tender, expressive and utterly distinctive, relates short, poetic stories to the delicate folk-pop that populates Long Live, effortlessly nurturing a nature-themed narrative across an organic and alluring 15-track journey.

From the opening plucked tones of Rut & Nuzzle, which reflects on nature’s design for growing antlers only to later shed them, it is immediately apparent that Snowblink possess a maturity far beyond Long Live’s status as a debut release: minimal production brings the band into the room, allowing their simple-yet-beautiful formula unhindered access to the ether.

Ambergis, too, trades on a natural confidence – its patiently-built soundscape, steady crescendo and vintage timbre normally reserved for album-closing escapades – while The Tired Bees channels the traditional, faded-folk beauty that made vast swathes of Beck‘s Mutations such timeless expressions of the human condition.

While one may expect a collaborative outfit like Snowblink to flit in and out of genres, tempos and moods, Long Live is an album that sticks to its guns throughout; its midsection, comprising of Green To Gone, Bulb, For Later and Sea Change, remains steadfastly resolute in its soft-folk mould, and resonates through the pairing of musical simplicity and Gesundheit’s gorgeous vocals.

There is little doubt, indeed, that Snowblink is her vehicle: she boasts an ageless tone that that will have the most restless listener – perhaps itching for a riotous passage or thundering folk stomp after Long Live’s unwaveringly gentle mode – �glued to the airwaves for fear of missing an elusive flourish, heartwarming harmony or elegiac turn-of-phrase.

Not that this is an LP wrought to soothe alone: Heckling The Afterglow, so sat in the tracklisting as to anchor the closing stages, echoes the virtues of its preceding siblings, but offers assertive, emphatic exclamation marks, too, in the form of a crashing drum.

While the album’s last two tracks proper – Go Deep and The Fish Of Little Thoughts – may well have the restive ear agitating for greater variety with their continued gossamer construction and dreamy folk structuring, they leave little doubt as to Snowblink’s assured grasp of naturally beautiful melodies formed simply, patiently and organically; Long Live as a whole is the creation that proves it.

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Snowblink – Long Live