reviewed by Michael Thomas
It seems unfitting to merely say that on every new album, Snowblink seem to up their game. The same can be said of many bands; with Snowblink, it’s different. I can still recall how stunned I was when I first heard “Ambergris” — it’s a pop song that seems so in-tune with the natural world that I wondered how anyone could have written it. I called their previous album “akin to a religious experience,” a notion Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit found funny.
Snowblink are already masters of the spiritual realm. On Returning Current, Snowblink are masters of the body. They’re looking more outward, and to boot, they attack each song in a different way. They’re in tune with nature, the spirits, and now themselves. What’s next?
There’s so much to say about this album before I even touch on the music itself; from Gesundheit’s “mood board” goals to the fact that Feist, Owen Pallett, Thom Gill and a million other talented people play on this to the album’s division of “dayside” and “nightside.” All of these are just cherries on the perfect cake.
Okay, now the actual music: the first single “How Now” was a beautiful sneak peak into Snowblink’s expanded sound, and remains a wonderful opener. From the flute at the beginning to the way the synth seems to drape the song like a few feet of warm water, it starts with a tone like a song from Inner Classics before expanding outward.
The rest of “dayside” is exploration of the human condition—no song more encapsulates the feeling of the morning than “Exotic Bird,” a song also covered in warm synths but with Gesundheit’s vocals sounding more tender than ever. The “Cyclone” of the album’s third song is of the human variety; the moody “Feel Like a Man” eventually grows into a huge space-opera-esque song, but not before Gesundheit says “I feel like a man/haven’t cried for weeks now.” Dayside highlight “Returning Current” turns poetic phrases like “the air around me is as humid as Hawaii with my evaporated desire” and builds up from something calm to something huge.
The transition to “nightside” is almost immediately noticeable, with more strings-oriented songs and a dream-like tone. Here, night isn’t so much a blanket of darkness than a time for things to come to a peaceful end, if only for the day. There’s tranquility in songs like the vaguely tropical “Cobalt Clear” and the graceful “Torn to Light.” The moonlight might not be all great, though—in “Second Sight” the moon is too bright and “lights the room uncomfortably.” So maybe the night isn’t as nice as we thought.
Words do not do justice how closely Snowblink’s pop hews to the rhythms of the heart.
Top Tracks: “Returning Current”; “Second Sight”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*