Album review: Winter Villains – February

Winter Villains - February

Winter Villains - February - Credit: Archant

An unassuming but remarkable debut, the Villains thread minimal vocal harmonies through sparse, evocative soundscapes.

The first album from this Cardiff-based outfit is both immediately familiar and strangely exotic. Placing vocal harmonies at the forefront of their sound, almost a capella at times but captivating throughout, Josef Prygodzicz and Faye Gibson have arguably achieved their aim of recreating the ‘fragile beauty of winter’ in their music.

The Air opens the album proper with vocals cosseting restrained piano, snare drum, plucked guitar and violin.

Elsewhere, delicate, sparse arrangements are evocative of the season’s freezing grip, often piano and acoustic guitar the only accompaniments to the band’s soft, almost monastic Simon & Garfunkel tones.

The arrangements are poised, precise, often filmic – reminiscent of Sigur Ros’ earlier, more intimate moments stripped of FX and treatments.

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Early single Moon’s glockenspiel notes emit a fairytale feel, Holes In Our Pictures boasts a poignant beauty, while Patterns and Icebergs, their earliest songs, sound purposeful, accomplished and strangely adventurous in their wielding of silence as a musical device.

Sparse and minimalist, yet rich and beautiful, February champions the power of pure simplicity.

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4 stars

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