Olive Grove Records have a knack for signing bands that make you feel warm inside. Despite labelling themselves “glacial pop”, and it’s true that Call to Mind’s debut full-length may remind you of snowy days and winter landscapes, it feels very much like you’re enjoying the view from your window by the fireside.
Let’s get the obvious comparison out the way – yes, Sigur Ros fans will enjoy The Winter is White. If the Icelandic outfit were from just outside Inverness, sang in a real language, and released songs that were a digestible length, then they might produce something like this. It’s a complimentative comparison.
Lead track ‘Breathe’ feels like a single, yet might not be the best song to showcase the album. The vocal-heavy passages do not prepare the listener for the sparse soundscapes found elsewhere on The Winter is White, and while it, like everything else on the album, is a pleasure, it ultimately jars with the album’s otherwise perfect flow.
‘Energy // Blast’ has a Kid A atmosphere to it – the rolling percussion and descending vocal lines are reminiscent of that album, while the cacophony of cymbals and strings lead to numerous climactic passages more akin to post-rock artists.
Despite the grand instrumentation and open-space environments created, the album sounds positively intimate. While the latter half of ‘The Passage & The Gift’ may batter your speakers with a wall of sound, it still sounds uplifting, personally so. Like the Icelandic band, the lyrics may not be overly important as opposed to how they are being sang. Indeed, closer ‘Chemotherapy’ has a vocal delivery that’s hard to decipher. What you take from the song will be how you hear it, not what you take from its lyrics.
It’s a welcome change from this sort of glacial pop, or post-rock, or whatever it is, where every track usually takes 10+ minutes to sit through. Clocking in at 40 minutes with 10 tracks, it is incredibly accessible, even though it is not quite like anything else the Scottish music scene is producing. Atmospheric and beautiful it may be, and it is, it is likely that each listener will take their own thing from The Winter is White, and the opportunity to do that is what really makes Call to Mind’s debut an absolute stormer.