With winter’s official arrival, I thought it was only appropriate to sneak in a review of an EP entitled inclement weather before the year was up. As it always is when you see the categorization “folk duo” and such a title, you make an assumption of the music you are about to hear; cutesy folk-pop songs that will combat the cold weather. Little Criminals is a lot more complex than this.
Amanda Bestvater & Taylor Long-Read (Little Criminals) have a penchant for the dramatics. With a blast of bitter wind one moment and a wave of warmth the next, inclement weather is a complex tapestry of emotions. Throughout, Long-Read and Bestvater share vocal duties with both voices carrying a fierce passion. “tired hands,” in particular, has both Long-Read and Bestvater almost growling for an effect that I will classify as a vocal strut. An incredible effect that makes “tired hands” the standout track.
At the forefront of each song is a violin (and sometimes two violins and a viola depending on the song). As one of Little Criminals’ most charming qualities, the violin (Bestvater) is the heart of inclement weather. A guide to the emotional pitches of the EP, in songs like “wreckless,” “ship in a bottle,” and the extensive “lullabye (for my telemarketer lover),” the violin shines bright and often stands alone as a beacon in the troubled storms Little Criminals create.
The baroque pop sounding “you smell like lies” has a very eerie quality to it to end inclement weather. Perhaps it has something to do with creepy lyrics like, “I dug up a bone in the shape of your heart,” Little Criminals close their record off in a memorable way and before you know it, just like they claim they will do, they are off with your heart.
Top Tracks: “tired hands”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)