Published Sep 15, 2015"When fire has turned us into ashes / And time has erased all memories / When the words we've spoken here have vanished / You will still be my family."
Between icy, industrial hisses and hammers on "Proper Burial," Carmen Elle (DIANA, Army Girls) coos these lines over a dreary church organ and a meandering bass line. Appearing on the second track of Won, she's voicing the first words heard on the sophomore release from Toronto's Fresh Snow, and it's intriguing that the temporal nature of communication and the stability of community are the subjects they address.
Usually an instrumental organism, before this release, Fresh Snow didn't have a lot of words to its modest catalogue of dynamic experimental rock. Aside from some buried vocals on its shoegaze-y "Los Vientos Del Tiempo," their 2013 debut, I, was untouched by lyrics, content to let its typically noisy, groove imperative head-trips burn and soar without narrative guidance. Outside of that release, there was the simple vocal chorus guitarist Brad Davis contributed to disco overhaul "Snow's Victory" and (if it counts) the "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle" cover they tracked with vocals from Julie Fader for Hand Drawn Dracula's In Utero tribute Milkin' It, but that's it. Here, the band doubles their stock of original verbal product; Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham also lends his righteous bark to the rumbling blast-off and atmospheric drifts of album closer "Don't Fuck a Gift Horse in the Mouth."
While the majority of this record sounds like a return to form, the appropriately titled album opener "King Twink Rides Again" is a somewhat deceiving introduction to a release that has Fresh Snow spending plenty of time exploring new territory. "Proper Burial" is ironically colder than anything Fresh Snow have committed to record yet, the pulsing and shimmering drones on "Delft" are curiously rested and "Don't Fuck a Gift Horse in the Mouth" sounds like the band I showed us, but with punk vocals.
The big takeaway is that Fresh Snow aren't the band we think they are. I wasn't created in a vacuum, and its follow-up proves its creators won't be boxed comfortably into a corner. Second time out, Fresh Snow call upon allies to assist in a metamorphosis. It's a second chapter in a quest for sonic adventure that is just as important as its first, defeating expectations, taking risks and reshaping its identity, all without compromise. Won, indeed. (Hand Drawn Dracula)