White Flags of Winter Chimneys
The last time we heard from Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman was 1998 and they were known as Girl Bros. Before that, they were backing up Prince in his legendary band, The Revolution. In fact, we have these two ladies to thank for the likes of “Purple Rain” and “Raspberry Beret.”
White Flags of Winter Chimneys is all about atmosphere, which is to say it’s thick with textured vocal and string arrangements that form a kind of cloudy yet bright mixture of sounds. Though containing only nine songs, this album is both energetic and sprawling, making it a kind of mini-epic. The opening track, “Balloon,” is an ethereal, almost childlike, meditation that gives way to the choral and guitar-heavy pop ballad, “Invisible.” There’s something ominous about “Niagara Falls,” in which Wendy and Lisa hauntingly repeat, “It looks so small from here/Please don’t help me.” Despite their sweet and smooth voices, there’s a sincere melancholy that comes through.
The last three tracks, “You and I,” “White Flags of Winter Chimneys,” and the nearly nine-minute long, “Sweet Suite (Beginning at the End),” divide the album in two distinct episodes. The first has more momentum than the second, which makes White Flags of Winter Chimneys less a cohesive collection of songs than a rich drama of emotional contradictions, which is good, if you’re in the mood to be manipulated. If not, then I suggest alternating between the more upbeat numbers and saving mellow ones for when you need some quiet time.