Widowspeak
Plum


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jesper L. CONTRIBUTOR (46 Reviews)
August 30th, 2020 | 29 replies


Release Date: 08/28/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An intentionally, beautifully restricted palette

Even though Autumn is a season of absolute misery to me, there is something endearing about the summer coming to its inevitable end. I’m not talking about the alleged cosiness of constant rain (seriously, who actually enjoys that?), the reintroduction of pumpkin spiced everything (...everyone complaining about that might be more of an annoying tradition than the actual lattes, though), or the crunchy, colourful leaves (they just get wet and slippery since it’s raining all damn day, remember?). No, I’m talking about the strange sensation of feeling nostalgic about, say, a month ago, when regular responsibilities still felt a lifetime away. I’m talking about the weirdness of experiencing warm weather while regular, stressful life starts again, knowing that the next summer is months and months away. Honestly, it sucks. Which is why the ‘endearing’ part about this exaggerated pity party has very little to do with the season itself; rather, it is being able to find some sense of comfort among this misery. Enter Plum.

The new album by New York dream pop outfit Widowspeak is an incredibly soothing affair, effortlessly capturing the spirit of those final lazy summer days spent attempting to ignore the big, looming cloud known as ‘real life’. While not differing all that much from the band’s previous output, Plum slightly shifts its focus to the 1960s and incorporates more acoustic elements and less fuzz, resulting in a clearer, brighter album. Simultaneously, all crucial dream pop elements remain intact: Molly Hamilton’s vocals are airy yet confident and guitarist Robert Thomas provides impressively catchy, laid-back instrumentation all throughout. Together, the duo occasionally fall victim to homogeneity as the album tends to blend together, which would have been a bigger issue had it not been for the sheer quality of the songs.

This excellence can be found in every small detail of Plum. Hamilton and Thomas truly reveal themselves as experienced songwriters here, seemingly opting for the ‘less is more’-approach. Each track takes one small moment - be it a cute riff, a smart one-liner or a gentle synth melody - and confidently runs with it. ‘Amy’, for example, introduces itself with a simplistic bass line. It’s a seemingly insignificant aspect, yet ends up defining the song’s verses as the low tones gently accompany Hamilton’s airy vocals. Eventually, these brooding parts make way for shimmering guitars and gentle keys, turning what could have been perceived as an underwritten chorus (‘Amy, Amy, Amy, watched you drive away’) into one of the record’s most uplifting moments. Similarly, ‘Sure Thing’ is built around a simple, snappy riff that forms the backbone of the song, yet does not feel redundant at any point.

It’s an impressive accomplishment: when paying close attention, several elements can feel like they should not work as well as they do. Yet, Widowspeak manage to craft gorgeous songs out of the little they choose to work with, skillfully avoiding the seemingly inevitable, omnipresent gloom a little longer. The title track’s chorus, consisting of ‘You’re a peach / And I’m a plum’ seems somewhat banal out of context, however, Hamilton’s breezy delivery and the wonderfully chill instrumentation make for one of Plum’s most touching choruses. Similarly, standout cut ‘Breadwinner’ seemingly makes a point out of being the most gorgeous track about something incredibly monotonous. Dealing with the topic of working a less-than-ideal nine to five job, it is truly remarkable that the chorus lyrics of ‘Always, always, bringing your work home’ are as shimmeringly beautiful as they are, portrayed against a canvas of calm synths and echoing guitars. Whether or not it is meant as an attempt to appreciate the mundane, it is an undeniably beautiful song. Hell, ‘Jeannie’ exclusively features the most basic of French sentences (‘Je ne sais pas’, ‘Je ne comprends pas’) as its sole lyrics and manages to be a perfectly enjoyable cut. In anyone else’s hands this would have likely yielded laughably disastrous results, yet Hamilton and Thomas manage to make it as pleasant and endearing as the rest of the record.

Plum is an exceptional record in that it manages to be pleasant without falling victim to complacency, as well using simplicity to showcase the band’s songwriting talents. By creating excellent, memorable tracks with a relatively restricted palette, Widowspeak truly hone their craft on this record. Ignore the dark clouds a little longer, find a way to relax: allow this highly pleasant ‘forbidden fruit’ to be your escapist guide.



Recent reviews by this author
Palm Reader SleeplessSoft Kill Dead Kids R.I.P. City
Woodes Crystal BallSea Oleena Weaving A Basket
Nothing The Great DismalHoly Motors Horse
user ratings (28)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i don't like autumn but i do like this album, definitely their best. give it a listen!

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

Gyromania
August 30th 2020


30969 Comments


only heard almanic which i thought was great. ballad of the golden hour is one of my favourite songs of last decade

budgie
August 30th 2020


22617 Comments


oh nice widowspeak album


JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this tops almanac imo gyro, def give it a listen!

did u finally listen budgie bc i feel like i've instructed you to do so in every way possible

Gyromania
August 30th 2020


30969 Comments


enjoying it so far

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


22298 Comments


The first 2 albums didn't do much for me but Expect the Best was cool. Will check!

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - K.G.

Sunnyvale
August 31st 2020


1850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, album was solid upon first listen

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

it's actually pretty different from expect the best but both albums are great!

thanks sunny, i'm glad :]

Squiggly
August 31st 2020


52 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos. I love this kind of less-is-more approach, so this sounds like it would be right up my alley



Have to disagree with you on Autumn as a whole though. I find constant rain soothing, as opposed to a downpour.

Digging: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


22298 Comments


Yeah Jesp, autumn is best season. Beautiful red leaves, post summer cold breeze, and tons of black metal lol

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

cheers squiggly, hope you enjoy!

well you autumn lovers wanna swap locations? the dutch climate is basically 4 different variations of autumn and i hate it :[ (glad you guys don't feel the same tho hahaha)

budgie
August 31st 2020


22617 Comments


"basically 4 different variations of autumn and i hate it "

i will swap the american SW for 4 variations of autumn!! are the towns in NL nice?

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

not really imo but seeing as i'm an angsty pop punk fan i may not be the best person to ask

the big cities are mostly cool tho.. primarily amsterdam rotterdam and utrecht.. yea that's all you really need

budgie
August 31st 2020


22617 Comments


what about...

oosterbeek... veghel.. velmolen... driel.. heelsum... arnhem... and grave. and best and doorwerth

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

maybe try the lil village 'de hulk'..

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


22298 Comments


Duuude you have Roadburn super close, also Scheumke is your neighbor then?

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


1913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

one day i won't be a broke student & i'll have enough money to attend roadburn.. one day..

and i wouldn't know haha! don't think we've interacted much but def a v dutch name

Scoot
September 1st 2020


20263 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is solid



the good ones is my favourite, love that groove



there is definitely some trespassers william influence

Wayfarer1991
September 2nd 2020


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good as usual. Honestly, despite the occasional bland song, this band doesn't ever really miss on an album level.

mardin65
September 4th 2020


51 Comments


I haven’t heard this yet but I am planning to soon



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy