Winterpills (Signature Sounds, 2005)
As might be guessed from the band's name, Winterpills have an affinity for dark, wintry songs. If you're the kind of person who runs from any musical implication that everything isn't OK and the world might not be such a happy bouncy place, feel free to skip to the next review; the self-titled debut album from this Northampton, Massachusetts quartet is not for you. Singer/acoustic guitarist Phillip Price will never be confused with an infectious optimist, but he has a good flair for words and many of his melodies stick with you after hearing them. He, lead guitarist Dennis Crommett, drummer Dave Hower, and backing vocalist Flora Reed do a fine job of creating the right atmosphere to fit Price's lyrics. In particular, Reed's hauntingly eerie harmonies make her an irreplaceable component of the Winterpills sound. Most of the songs deal with romantic relationships in various stages of coming undone. Even when the music is upbeat, like in the solid rocker "Laughing," the lyrics describe running away from a girl just as things start to get serious. Often the words get downright creepy, like in the song "Pills For Sara" about a drug-addicted girlfriend, but the band's musicality brings a sense of power and earnestness to the emotions and makes the song work.
Winterpills is the debut work of a band that has a lot to offer musically, even if they've embraced a style that will not please everybody. Personally I've tended to find melancholy music very therapeutic in the right doses, especially when done really well like it is here.
Overall Grade: B+