Wildbirds and Peacedrums | The Snake
Most Likely To: put you in touch with your inner Loki.
As Mariam Wallentin sings “If we fall, we’ll never rise / If we fall, we’re gonna rise again” on “There Is No Light,” she typifies the tension that fuels Wildbirds and Peacedrums’ second full-length, The Snake. On the follow-up to their 2008 debut Heartcore, Wallentin and her husband Andreas Werliin, both Swedes, continue to create genre-defying music, which could proudly serve as the backdrop for a secular attempt to speak in tongues, should anyone care to arrange one.
Wallentin and Werliin harness a tremendous amount of raw, ramshackle energy that they toss into their musical kettle, and after the spell is cast, The Snake emerges. Listen to The Snake in its entirety, and don’t expect to pop off catchy little singles and discard the rest. Wallentin’s voice offers hints of Bjork and Kate Bush, but she’s too busy interpreting rhythms and emotions from somewhere else (don’t ask, you haven’t been there) to bother with outright imitation.
If “There Is No Light” deconstructs the blues by rearranging the components into an emotionally compelling swirl of guitar, Werliin’s rim shot percussion, and raw vocals, then “Chain of Steel” reworks Motown. The song borrows the piano sequence from The Temptations’ “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” and reframes it into something lyrically creepy and about as far from the Motor City as you can get: “She’s got a hold on me, and not in a tasty way.”
Wallentin sings and whistles her way through “Places,” blending perfectly with Werliin’s tom-heavy drumming. The tale on “Liar Lion” is straight from Homer, “There is something ugly / and there is something pretty / but in the end he just will lose / he will lose shield and honor / he will lose his wife and children.” Ultimately, however, it’s the rhythmic vocals at the song’s end that linger.
Wallentin and Werliin march right up to the line of kitschy ridiculousness, but stay on its good side. Mostly. Sure, some of the music is over the top. They named the record The Snake, a choice that can’t be mistaken for subtlety. But their record features songs that are so unselfconscious that it’s hard not to pick up the tambourine and join the metaphorical drum circle.