As we charge through the first month of January and into 2011, the deep snows of December fall further behind and become distant memories. So here’s a release to transport us all back to that pre-festive wonderland: “It Snowed A Lot This Year” by Trwbador. And it’s not just the wintry title that connects us to past times: the wide-eyed rapture and innocent wonder that greets snowflakes falling is not dissimilar to the spell this EP weaves.
Trwbador play a kind of gauzy faerie-folk-glitch-pop that mixes child-like cooing, chimes and acoustic guitar with electronic clicks and whirrs. Swn Festival no less has compared the Carmarthenshire duo to Broadcast, Tuung, Cornelius and Deerhoof. But these are comparisons Angharad Van Rijswijk and Owain Gwilym don’t agree with - and I can see why. None of those names convey the lightness of touch and texture in their music, how they balance the organic and electronic, keeping the songs wispy and airy and human.
So the coyly sweet loops and beats of wordless opener ‘Eira’ or the carefree sing-song of ‘Shapes(La La La)’ gently draw the listener in, not by stealth but by pure charm. Underpinned by the gentlest hint of bossa nova, ‘Off Beat’ plays the same trick even when it trips itself over into a glitchy rut.
But there’s more to Trwbador than just sweetness and light. ‘Hit The Walls’ sings of conspicuous consumption, debt, and pointless wars. The second half may switch to Welsh but there’s no mistaking the “fuck you” amidst the mother tongue. It’s a political protest song delivered by stylophone and soft-voiced naivety. ‘Daw’r Nos, Daw’r Haf’ follows with a much more steely directness. Being sung entirely in Welsh, I’m not sure who or what the song is addressed at - but that just makes it all the more intriguing as its grandfather clock beats speed up to a climactic and sudden finale. The final two songs take this trajectory even further - and as they surrender words to sampled sounds and jittery beats, the Cornelius reference makes more sense.
On these seven songs Trwbador have pulled off an impressive feat: making music that is gently playful and experimental, singing gossamer-light lullabies but with a glint of menace and edge in the corner of their young shiny eyes. A fine debut release for both the band and their label Owlet Music. I am confident we will be hearing plenty more from both.
Daw'r Nos, Daw'r Haf - Trwbador
Shapes (La La La) - Trwbador
Trwbador It Snowed A Lot This Year [BUY]