erasing clouds

Picnic, Winter Honey

review by dave heaton

On their debut album, the Estonian band Picnic starts off sounding head over heels in love with music that soaks you in waves of sound: My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, the Cure’s Disintegration and assorted dream-pop and even psychedelic stalwarts. Singer Marju Taukar often stands within a gorgeous and at times disorienting swirl of synthesizer, guitars, and just odd sounds in general. (Listen to “Love Song for an Imaginary Lover” for a good example of the latter: a consistent crackle underneath a group of clanging, turning, and I-don’t-know-what-ing noises.)

Yet starting as early as the second song (“Breathe In”) are moments where her voice occupies a place of clarity, where she sings, for example, “a friend looks into my eye / ‘it can’t be over’, I cry”, and we understand her. Still guitars are behind her churning in anguish, withholding a cry, which is part of the appeal of Picnic. This seems a playground for expression, for what tools musicians can use to get what sound or capture what mood. But these are also pop songs, by turns catchy (“Shareware”) or languid (“Oko”). Then there are songs that shift gears within themselves, temporarily moving to a different room. “Fixed” is on one level a straight-up country-and-western ballad, one that a couple minutes in drifts off into a hazy psych-jam until sliding right back into the lost-love country song. Winter Honey contains songs that float us around dream-spaces but also can smack us or cry out to us. It’s dream-pop music that knows how to wake us up, too.


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