Monday, November 5, 2012

Album Retrospective: Snowmine - Laminate Pet Animal

Album Rating: A-
How to make a sleeper hit in 2011.

Step 1: Give people the option of downloading your album for free. Everyone and their mother gets music for nothing nowadays, but they’re rather do it legally and tend to warm to the bands that allow them to. Step 2: Have an interesting and appealing album cover. The first opinion of an album is usually from the image on the front, so like it or not it’s aesthetics that decide whether you listen to something or not. Step 3: Make a fucking good album. That’s what Snowmine did.

Probably best placed under the ever “iffy” label of indie-pop, Snowmine like to make catchy songs with a rich, almost bestial atmosphere; and plenty piled on top of the guitar/drums/synth setup that the genre has now made cliche. Echoes and electro-acoustic soundscapes that subtly cower throughout the album convey the sense that Laminate Pet Animal is far more than the caged up creature many of us were expecting. In fact, with Snowmine’s penchant for mixing quiet lulls with explosive choruses, it’s much more likely to be loping through fields: charged full of energy. Songs are dense and filled to the brim with far more layers than the average 5-piece band is able to supply, so on top of bouncing guitar riffs and powerful percussion you could have a mixture of strings, vocal harmonies or even horns if the mood calls for it.

This kind of stuff is probably expected if you chose a classical composer as your frontman. Songs are tight to a T and charmingly inventive: with ‘Danger in the Snow!’ using a coupling of foreground bass and horns for its celebratory emotional outburst after each chorus, and ‘Piece of Your Pie’ utilizing distorted vocals -off all things- as its main melody. An endearing display of style in an age where everything’s a remix. Sanders’ voice also happens to be surprisingly sweet, yet distinctive in a very clean-cut but not sickly way. Perfect for the medium, then, with charming but slightly nonsensical lyrics to match.

This is definitely more of a musical album than a lyrical one, however, as it’s the culmination of the little tips and flurries that helps to distinguish the album in the first place: from that fantastic switch to a more urgent mood towards the end of ‘Hologram’ to the way ‘Beast in Air, Beast in Water’ slowly adapts film score-esque strings. Everyone will have their favourite song and then even their favourite part of a song; what marks Laminate Pet Animal as so special is that this will be different for everyone. This is certainly an album that deserves its relative success, and for those who are yet to hear it: make sure to change that. The follow up is out soon.

Stream and download on Bandcamp
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1. Beast in Air, Beast in Water
2. Penny
3. The Hill
4. Danger in the Snow!
5. Let Me In
6. Piece of Your Pie
7. Trial and Error
8. This One
9. Hologram

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