matinée 053 / December 2005
- Too Cold To Snow
- The Boy With The Hummingbird Eyes
- Teddy Dragons
- Sleepydust (12” mix)
Second single from mysterious Matinée musicmakers The Snowdrops, an occasional collaboration of indie legends Keith Girdler (Blueboy, Beaumont, Arabesque, Lovejoy), Dick Preece (Lovejoy, Beaumont) and Pam Berry (The Pines, Shapiros, Black Tambourine, Glo Worm). The new EP features five tracks including a Pet Shop Boys-inspired title track with brilliant lead vocals from Keith plus backing from Pam. Other tracks include a beautiful atmospheric number called ‘Too Cold To Snow,’ the wonderful ‘The Boy With The Hummingbird Eyes’ featuring Dick on lead vocals and a guest appearance from Keris Howard (Harper Lee, Brighter), a short one called ‘Teddy Dragons’ and a remix of ‘Sleepydust’ with more Pam (always a good thing) and some other nice touches. Limited to 1000 copies in custom minijacket sleeve.
And now, for the return of unrepentant and unapologetic Pop sensations. What can we say about The Snowdrops? Well the hipsters amongst you no doubt already know that they consist of Keith Girdler, Pam Berry and Dick Preece, which means that they can count the likes of Blueboy, The Pines, Black Tambourine and Lovejoy as previous and current form. And if you have even a modicum of sense you will realise that such form is mighty classy. This, their new single for the Matinée label is mighty classy too, being full of lush electro inflected Indiepop full of Diana Ross dresses and dreams of Saturday night fevers. It’s the sound of breathy kisses and dreamy-eyed devotion; of The Field Mice skywriting love letters to Ellsworth Kelly; of Pet Shop Boys on Brighton pier in a video by Caravaggio. Priceless. --Tangents
The Snowdrops' last single for Matinée featured a cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World". This time around the title song "Sleepydust" is clearly in love with the Pet Shop Boys, with an unmistakably similar sound. But don't think the trio is necesarily on a 'back to the '80s' nostalgia kick, at least not in a superficially retro way. For in both cases the emotions are real and the performances are superb. "Sleepydust" appears here in two versions (the original, and an extended 12" version featuring more vocals from Pam Berry). Both are romantic and lovely, a tribute to a "new best friend" which begins with Keith Girdler (also of Blueboy, Lovejoy, etc.) singing "As you were sleeping, I held your hand..." The song has a lush electro-pop atmosphere, Diana Ross references, and an overly tender and soft demeanor. That feeling carries through to the gorgeous slow-motion instrumental "Too Cold to Snow", and then on to the EP's other featured pop song. Sung by the Snowdrops' third member Dick Preece (lead singer for Lovejoy) and produced by Keris Howard (Harper Less, Brighter), "The Boy With the Hummingbird Eyes" is a beautiful, sad snapshot of "another lonely star fallen from the sky". It has a spectaular tune, a bittersweet aura, and a title that my memory tells me comes from a book by my favorite author, Douglas Coupland. In other words, it's a winner, another stylish, melancholy pop song for the ages. --Erasing Clouds
The members of the Snowdrops might want to reconsider the band's status as a side project. Their subdued synth-pop moves like a less-kinetic Postal Service, prizing atmosphere over rhythm or groove. "Too Cold to Snow" gorgeously portrays winter's peak, and fails only by being too brief. Both the original and the 12" remix of the title track meld electronic and acoustic tones, making an otherwise polar number open up as a song to "my new best friend" while problematizing the whole concept by capping the experience with the word "again." The disc drops off with "Teddy Dragons," a track comprised of spaced chords and too-soft talking, but it remains strong enough to suggest that this group should release more than an EP every two years. --Stylus Magazine
It's good to know that the Field Mice are revered in various locales around the world. They really were a wonderful band and the Snowdrops keep their indie pop meets synth pop sound alive and well on their first EP, 2005's Sleepydust. Comprised of Lovejoy’s Dick Preece, Blueboy and Lovejoy’s Keith Girdler, and indie pop heroine Pam Berry (from too many groups to mention but currently the Pines), the trio isn't just aping the Mice; they have enough emotion, melodic knowhow, and songcraft to make something more than just an homage. The title track is the real gem here, a bubbling love song with perfectly lovely harmonies from Girlder and Berry as well as some cute-as-kittens fake handclaps. The 12" version of the song is much the same, but features more vocals from Berry -- which is always a good idea. The other pop tune on the disc ("Too Cold to Snow" and "Teddy Dragons" are short instrumentals) features Preece on vocals and is not as buoyant as "Sleepydust," but still very good. The main thing missing in the song are vocals from Berry. The EP serves as a nice introduction to the group and a listen or two will have you eagerly awaiting a full-length release. --All Music Guide
More well crafted Matinée ear wear and reason indeed for snuggling up safe and sound under the duvet comes in the shape of the second single from the Snowdrops. Described by the accompanying press blurb (which was here one minute and now absconded the next) as an ’occasional collaboration of indie legends’ who between them have appeared one time or another in Lovejoy, Beaumont, the Pines, Glo Worm, and Blueboy amongst others which I suppose on that list alone accounts for their immense pedigree if not anything else. Five tracks feature here provide adequate evidence of the ensembles ability to tweak at your emotions from differing perspectives, all are carved with that timid and timeless shy eyed appeal and hitherto innocence that we’ve all come to expect from the Matinée pop stable. Two versions of ’Sleepydust’ here, your bog standard radio edit affair and a pretty nifty 12” mix which together sound overall like a laid back take on New Orders’ ’Run 2’ with the added accompaniment of a particular chilled Pet Shop Boys on hand to sprinkle their mercurial laced coffee table pop authority upon. The resulting thread work a softly curdling shimmer like slice of numbing hand holding gracefulness that glides seductively from the grooves into your headspace in the blink of an eye with all the crafted charm of the Field Mice at their most alluring found swapping notes with Fosca. ’Too cold to snow’ is - well brief and quite beautiful more than that we can’t really say other than to point to the title get you to imagine what you think you’ll hear and then have you play it and be blown away by the glacial magnificence of it all. ’The boy with the hummingbird eyes’ is, once you’ve got passed the obvious urge to sing out loud ’Boy with the thorn in his side’, quite a corker, vocals piercing from the ether this lunar-esque musical odyssey could easily be Australian David Bridie doing nimbly effecting covers of classic House of Love gems from yesteryear. Perhaps a taste of things to come whatever yet for what it’s worth our favoured cut is the fragile ’Teddy Dragons’ which despite it’s almost invisible blink and its gone 45 second duration is a dreamy cocktail of Yellow 6 and Vini Reilly sky colouring aural loveliness which in our gaff is mightily welcomed and indeed recommended - more please. --Losing Today
The name of the band and the title of the CD suggest something small-scale and delicate, pale and pretty, surprising and ephemeral, like a snowflake. Those first impressions don't lie. Sleepydust sits somewhere between Belle and Sebastian and Air. "Too Cold to Snow" is a series of rising piano chords. "Teddy Dragons" takes a sampled voice and swaddles it in cottony layers of fog. In "The Boy With The Hummingbird Eyes" and "Sleepydust", Keith Girdler sings about "another lonely star fallen from the sky", and "my new best friend" while a heartbeat throb bops along next to him. A full-length album of this tweeness might wear out its welcome by the end (or it might be ravishing, you never know) but a 15-minute EP gives The Snowdrops just enough time to wander into your life, beguile you with indie loveliness, and wander out again, leaving you wanting more. --Pop Matters
Indie pop supergroup The Snowdrops return from hibernation with a quite beautiful five track ep. The title track reminds me somewhat of early New Order, and features the synthesised handclap, and for that reason alone should be applauded all the way to the bank. ‘The Cold To Snow’ (fantastic title) ups the glacial feel of this record and gives me shivers down the spine and everything. ‘The Boy With the Hummingbird Eyes’ is produced by Keris Howard who’s managed to make Dick’s voice sound even more fragile than it usually sounds. Bravo for that. It’s also the best track here, believe me. If the winter is stretching out in front you like a miserable frozen lake, reach for this ep, put a warm jumper on and eat some chocolate. You’ll feel better again before long. --Tasty
Synth-claps, naïve heartbreak harmonines, the Snowdrops claim to have been inspired by Pet Shop Boys and ‘Sleepydust’ does provide their canon with a mournful addition. ‘The Boy With The Hummingbird Eyes’ is filled with greater hope and is all the more charming for it. Ambient electro indie-pop with a rocking chair St. Etienne groove.
The Snowdrops are very much an indie-pop supergroup. Featuring members of such legendary bands as Beaumont and Arabesque, as well as the always wonderful Pam Berry, this little group occasionally makes wonderfully gray, melancholy pop. Sleepydust is only their second release in two and a half years, but it was certainly worth the wait. If you’re familiar with the works of Bob Wratten, then this little EP will certainly feel like a tribute to the long-lost and quite beloved band The Field Mice. Everything about this record is reminiscent of that beautiful group—from the cover art to the beautiful music. And shall we talk about the wonderful, wonderful music? Let’s! The five songs on here are as sad and blue as you smart-dressing college kids could possibly want. The big song here is the title track; it’s got a gentle beat that’s slightly Chris Lowe, and lead singer Keith Girdler meets the beat with his best Neil Tennant impersonation. Throw in gorgeous backing vocals by Pam Berry, and you’ve got a wonderful combination. The EP is book-ended by two versions, a “regular” version and a “12-Inch” version; the only real difference between the two is that the latter version features a different vocal introduction by Ms. Berry. Though the three songs in the middle aren’t quite as big and as grand as the title song, they’re still quite lovely. “Too Cold To Snow” is a cold, wintery instrumental; it’s stark and sad and makes you seek out the nearest jacket. “The Boy with the Hummingbird Eyes” features the vocals of Dick Preece and a guest appearance by Keris Howard, and though it might not contain the bright lyrical spark as the title song, it’s still a pretty, beat-ridden number, with detached singing that makes you want to gaze at your shoes in sorrow. “Teddy Dragons” is a brief, less-than-a-minute number that’s not really essential, though it does fit the general mood of the rest of the record quite nicely. If you’ve ever wondered what The Field Mice might have released after their swan-song single “Missing the Moon,” Sleepydust answers that question quite nicely. It’s a lovely record that whets the appetite for the next Snowdrops record. --Mundane Sounds