Review- “Oceans”- Wintermitts

reviewed by Michael Thomas

If there’s any band that is showing how well the English and French languages work together it is undoubtedly Wintermitts. There have been numerous bands who have done a one-off French song here and there (or even just a French lyric thrown in) but this Vancouver sextet makes switching between English and French seem as natural as breathing.

And the band never goes halfway on a song- the songs in English seem no less sincere than the songs in French. In fact, I found myself attracted even more to the French songs.

Musically, you might compare Wintermitts to Arcade Fire, but without the blatant socio-political commentary. Wintermitts will drive themselves into your head with a strong horn section, the odd accordion and some fantastic voices.

Currently, they’ve made singles of the first two songs on the album, “Le Paradis” and “Sharks.” The former (French for “paradise,” and sometimes “heaven”) is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. There’s a great variety of instruments here (as with most songs), particularly the horns and the xylophone. A little slice of paradise, I might add. The latter also sports a great horn section. If anything, it’s the happiest-sounding song about sharks approaching ever.

“Springtime” is a tune with an undeniable atmosphere to it. The lines about wanting to fall asleep by one’s side is adorable, and it’s generally filled with the idea of spring- rejuvenation and general happiness that the cold is over.

“Birds” has more of a rock feel to it, and opens with some poetic questions: “How do the birds know how to move on?/And how do swallows always find a way home?” The follower “I Saw a Ghost” is what I can tell the only song that mixes French and English. In fact, the transition is so seamless I didn’t realize the language had switched at all. It’s a pretty great song to “rock out” to. There are a million instruments playing at once, like a manic hoedown.

“Careful” is one song that goes full-out with the accordion. It starts off with an exotic “desert” type sound- maracas, that oh-so-recognizable pattern of Spanish guitar. The next song, “Basquiat” (possibly a reference to the New York City Neo-expressionist painter) is perhaps the only song I’ve ever heard that makes an accordion sound sinister. What follows is one the most adventurous songs on the album- just when you think it’s over you’ll realize it’s only halfway done.

The album ends with “A La Fraiche,” a refreshingly simple track featuring just vocals and acoustic guitar. It’s almost like being sung a nursery rhyme after a great day.

Even listening to this album once should be more than enough proof that Wintermitts are the real deal. Their intense-yet-playful style is irresistible.

Oceans can be purchased via Bandcamp and you can check out their website for info on tour dates and other such matters.

Top Tracks: “Le Paradis”; “Basquiat”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*


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