Widowspeak- ’90’s shoegaze and dreamy-pop’
Sheffield Unchained contributor Jessica Peace reviews Widowspeak.
Perched on top of a frugal table in the corner of a small bar with exiguous lighting, Widowspeak, a young, talented, indie-pop duo from Brooklyn, look right at home. Surrounded by a small crowd, the poster couple bring their own nuances to independent music with their 90’s shoegaze, ethereal sound.
Their opening song pours into the room, introducing patient guitar hooks and haunting vocals; an angelic sound that almost sedates the audience. Guitarist and vocalist Molly Hamilton is truly endearing throughout, especially on Ballad of the Golden Hour, which harbours the same vocal enchantment and genius songwriting of Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star.
Last week, Bungalows and Bears played host to the Sheffield debut of Widowspeak, who first crept onto the music scene in 2010 harnessing a unique dreamy-pop sound. Founding members, Hamilton and drummer Michael Stasiak were later joined by Robert Earl Thomas, who now plays lead guitar.
The versatile guitar lines between Hamilton and Thomas create a tangible compromise of hippy idealism and the spirit of good old rock and roll. Thomas provides infectious riffs in The Dark Age, which oozes melancholic romance in the depths of its lyrics, drenching the audience in toxic self-reflection.
Widowspeak signed to independent record label Captured Tracks in New York, which has nurtured and developed the rise of luminescent music by signing talented bands such as Wild Nothing, DIIV and Mac Demarco. They released their debut album of the same name, just a year after forming. The album, recorded after just six shows, received critical acclaim and their first single Harsh Realm provided a soundtrack for the hit TV series American Horror Story. After touring America with their debut album, Stasiak made the decision to leave the band, leaving Hamilton and Thomas to continue as a duo.
The pair returned with their new album Almanac, which was released in January this year. After receiving continuous airplay of their new record, Fuse TV announced Widowspeak as one of the must-see bands of 2013. Making a name for themselves roaming the independent festival circuit, Widowspeak are also in the midst of a Europe and UK tour, which brought them to Sheffield.
Without a band behind them, the performance feels slow and slight, stripped down to bare minimum in regards to showmanship. But such is the reality of a small independent band, who are said to be touring entirely on trains with their guitars on their backs. Nonetheless, the duo fully captures the audience with their talent; honest, live music.
The highlight of the evening is the arrival of one of their latest singles, Thick as Theives, which provides an empowering sense of nostalgia. Throughout their performance a sea of appreciative listeners sway in time to their seemingly timeless musical numbers.
Proving that they are anything but tiring and static, the folk-tinged Minnewaska provides a meshing of warm acoustic guitar licks and haunting vocals, which is nothing short of stunning. Followed by the melancholic Storm King, which stops suddenly and draws a close to their performance.
Down to earth and endearingly mysterious, these guys are certainly hypnotic. The audience was left musically sated and even I could hear false echoes as we eagerly waited for an encore that never came. With their honest charisma, raw talent and effortless good looks, Widowspeak leave Sheffield pinning for more. It is safe to say that they are just getting started and it won’t be too surprising if they are headlining festivals in the years to come.