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Rhythm
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  • If Wildbirds & Peacedrums' music had to be described with one word, it would be Rhythm, and the duo's fourth album delivers all the power and complexity suggested by its title. Following the success of 2010's expansive, experimental Rivers, Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin embarked on a long string of performances that honed their already powerful live act. Inspired, they pared Rhythm's songs down to the most vital aspects of their music: vocals and percussion. While Wildbirds & Peacedrums already generated more sparks than many acts with bigger lineups and fuller sounds, now they sound more self-assured and direct than ever. Thanks to Rhythm's up close and personal production, it feels like listeners are inside Wallentin's throat and Werliin's kit. Meanwhile, the duo's songwriting is equally primal and sophisticated, refining the raw power of previous standouts like "There Is No Light" just enough to give it a few more facets. The album's insistent lead single, "The Offbeat," is a fantastic example of the duo's newfound clarity: Werliin and Wallentin both have room to be as simple or elaborate as they wish, and they complement their hard-hitting moments with flourishes that nod to their jazz roots. Throughout Rhythm, they find different ways of expressing the album's focus, ranging from the way "Gold Digger" builds from slinky, bass-driven verses into something towering and imposing to "Mind Blues"' stomping beat and Wallentin's rapid-fire questioning of her very existence. Fittingly for an album that revolves around creative rebirth, songs such as this one and "Who I Was" explore identity, a quest that takes on mystical dimensions as Rhythm unfolds. Wallentin's voice is commanding on its own, but when it's multiplied on "Soft Wind, Soft Death," she sounds like a choir of beautiful but terrifying angels; meanwhile, "Keep Some Hope" and "Everything All the Time" touch on life's great questions with incantation-like intensity. Mysterious and riveting, Rhythm is one of the most stunning distillations of Wildbirds & Peacedrums' powers yet. ~ Heather Phares
Professional Reviews
Clash (magazine) - "The sense of a swelling and subsiding storm at the heart of her performance on `Gold Digger' is staggering..."
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