Winterpills' self-titled debut CD earned a fairly favorable review from me last year. Phillip Price (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards), Flora Reed (vocals, keyboards), Dennis Crommett (lead guitar), Dave Hower (drums), and newly added bassist Brian Akey have just released their sophomore effort the light divides, and not a whole lot has changed. From the ominous minor chords introducing the opening song "Lay Your Heartbreak," followed by Reed's haunting harmony over Price's lead vocals, it's pretty clear that the new album picks up right where the debut left off. For Price, writing pretty, melancholy melodies with dark and often cryptic lyrics ("Hide me, tell everyone where I am but please, hide me") comes naturally. This will limit the band's audience, of course; if you're the kind of person who frequently labels songs as "too depressing," you won't like this. Personally, I find that dark music in the hands of a capable songwriter (like Beth Orton, for example) can be very therapeutic.
While I wouldn't put Winterpills in quite the same category as Orton, they are solid performers, and Price is developing into a top-notch songwriter. As was true with the first album, the band's biggest strengths are Price's memorable melodies and the vocal interplay between Price and Reed. My favorite song is the very catchy waltz "A Ransom," with a classic perverse sing-along chorus of "This is what you will wear to the end of the world." Another strong track is the single "Broken Arm," in which Price appears to be singing about a woman who's left him broken in more than one place.
On the whole, Winterpills moves a step forward relative to their debut with the light divides. Like I said before, I can't really recommend this CD to everybody, but you don't have to be facing July with two holes in your heart (I'm certainly not!) to enjoy the music.
Overall grade: B+