Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Wendy & Lisa – White Flags of Winter Chimneys

An unexpected treat. The duo’s first new studio effort in ten years finds them taking the quantum leap they’d always hinted they might have in them. Most of the new album White Flags of Winter Chimneys is moody, atmospheric, often dreampop-inflected anthems that give more than a nod and a wink to the Cure, layers of watery guitar and keys floating over slow hypnotic beats. With the 80s revival now seemingly a permanent part of the culture, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman picked an auspicious time to release this.

 

The cd’s big, opening ballad, Balloon moves along resolutely on a variation of the big hook from Floyd’s Us and Them, matched to a ghostly choir of pensive vocals. Invisible, a ridiculously catchy, guitar-fueled rocker would be the big radio hit if anyone still listened to commercial hit radio: “The sun is gone, I made it disappear…Invisible, I will never be,” Melvoin sings defiantly. There are also a couple of overtly Radiohead-influenced numbers here, the somewhat minimalist Ever After and the album’s closing Sweet Suite, which is totally Kid A, building to a very big and very Thom Yorke crescendo complete with a shape-shifting rhythm and layers of echoey guitar.

 

Salt & Cherries is a playful come-on: “It’s a beautiful day to come over and play with you in the dark.” The pretty, downtempo pop Red Bike cleverly nicks one of the ancillary guitar licks from Stairway to Heaven. With its sparse guitar and vocals, You and I has the feel of a great long-lost track by the Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac if that band had had any self-awareness, with particularly beautiful vocals: “Darkness is only home for the night, and you and I are running out of time.”

 

Of all the bonus tracks currently available with this via the band’s site, only a 1992 demo, The Dream hints at anything substantial. With Lush defunct, Siouxsie and the Cure having become nostalgia acts, this will inevitably find its way into every goth night and onto every retro 80s-ist’s ipod. Good for them.

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March 9, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. This title–it’s from a joni Mitchell song. Amelia, I think.

    Comment by george | March 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. It’s from Hejira. I couldn’t remember and had to google it:

    White flags of winter chimneys
    Waving truce against the moon
    In the mirrors of a modern bank
    From the window of a hotel room

    Comment by delarue | March 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. Interesting review… Well, being a long time follower of W&L’s work, this is a brilliant album. They are not mainstream (thank God), so it may be over and above the heads of the mainstream music fan.
    To know their history and to have waited ten years for their latest album is the ultimate reward. It was worth the wait. Best album of the year in my book. Hope they keep doing what they’re doing and how they do it. Bravo!

    Comment by micksguitar | March 12, 2009 | Reply


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