Ethereal chamber pop with a serious orchestral edge.
‘Overwinter’ is the fourth album from Grasscut, a Brighton based duo. I am new to the duo though and I’d imagine a lot of you reading may be too. Think everything you like about chamber or piano pop music and then give it a striking orchestral and synth emphasis and you have Grasscut. ‘Overwinter’ ticks all the boxes I look for in music and does it cinematically too.
Each of the tracks on the album feels like they could also be used in a musical. The cosy but sad piano and strings of ‘The Archive’ break into a waltzing symphony with radio snippets of different media. The music box gently lulling you into a hazy dream as Grasscut’s vocals move up an octave. Elsewhere ‘Windfarm’ feels like a Parisian circus of mandolin’s, strings, music boxes and frequency synths. Whilst orchestrations and lots of clarinets are present throughout, each track has its own unique spin on things. Sometimes the strings take over, other times it’s more percussive. It is a rollercoaster of a ride to pick out just what is being played and how those instruments are often tweaked in the mix. For example, the wind arrangements often sound like wild synths oscillating around mini riffs. The production throughout is mesmerising.
It isn’t about symphonic bursts as synths, beats and melodies are absolutely front and centre to Grasscut’s sound. Opening track ‘Return Of The Sun’ merges together clever clarinet loops and drums into a dramatic cascade of sound. That drama is replicated with guitars and strings with the warped disco of ‘Coprolite Tip’. Here simple vocals are drowned out by crunched up drum loops and a sawing string section like a chase in a thriller movie. The drama hits its peak with the stunning ‘Edge of Night’. This track showcases how cinematic and powerful a great pop hook can be when given lavish orchestrations.
On the flip side, the clarinet, keyboards and acoustic guitar make for a beautiful ballad with ‘Root & Branch’. Here, the often ethereal, hushed and multi-layered vocals nestle perfectly. It balances ethereal folk and quirky modern classical beautifully. ‘Wintering Now’ is a gorgeous piano, percussion and vocal piece that will be an immediate classic with any alt-piano lovers. Similarly ‘The Branches Of The Tree’ reminds me of a cross between Loreena McKennitt, C Duncan and Minute Taker. That kind of symphonic smudge that packs a punch is exactly where Grasscut resides.
As a lover of sad alternative piano-based pop and rock, it has been a while since I stumbled across a new artist where everything clicked into ‘love that’ territory on the very first listen. ‘Overwinter’ by Grasscut did just that. If you know this site and the kinds of music I personally love – take that as one of the strongest recommendations I’ve made not just in 2021, but in the last few years. Absolutely stunning album.
Recommended track: Edges Of Night
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