This second release in as many years sees the spooky, barely-there atmospherics of the debut, Heartcore, reprised and injected with a dose of arty pretension. Mariam Wallentin's octave straddling marries her husband's whispery percussion and tribal drumming to stark effect. Flourishes of jazz, pop and, in particular, the blues pepper the record, but are not to be found on the echo-y, Gregorian a cappella opener. Wallentin's here curiously deep vocal is then paired with only tribal drumming patterns for accompaniment on `Chain Of Steel'.
Not until track three are we presented with a `song proper', light percussion, xylophone and the lightest wash of calypso steel drum all stand up to be counted. Next up, it is back to religious world-beating, didgeridoo-like throat singing, other vocal oddball-ness as well as cymbals and piano to provide the super slow melody. The aforementioned blues strains appear at the album midpoint, along with clopping woodblock percussion. `Today/Tomorrow' continues this theme and Wallentin affects a complimentary 50s blues warble to partner the drums, all of which devolves into a manic, Mardi Gras finale.
The Snake's hindquarters provide most interest however. This kitchen-sink minimalism of the opening tracks has the potential to upset the carefully orchestrated draft that Heartcore created, but where it combines most successfully on The Snake, we are given lush, tribal almost-pop to recall a more acoustic Telepathe. The final two minutes of `Great Lines', along with the catchy `Liar Lion' and frosty sleigh-ride of a stripped back closer `My Heart' show that Wallentin and cohort look good with flesh on their bones. The latter of these tracks brings to mind the anti-pop, red-cheeked freshness of Beach House and Mechanical Bride.
Too intellectual for your local scenester and too cool for the pop fan, Wildbirds & Peacedrums are nevertheless doing for simple what Animal Collective are doing for complex.