“Who the hell are we to start this chain again? / Who the hell are we to break this chain again?”
Yep folks, that’s about as inspired as it gets on Angus & Julia Stone‘s new album Snow. It’s almost as if the Aussie siblings can’t be bothered riffing off each other any more, content in phoning in the most basic songwriting and hoping that their previous acclaim will get them by.
Just to be clear, it absolutely doesn’t. Snow is deathly boring, with both the title track and its neighbour Oakwood being a pure shot of aural tranquilizer. They’re a portent of what’s to come: lazy, been-there alt-folk that’s broad-stroked and over-produced, reducing any nuance of emotion they once possessed for the sake of something far too easy.
Literally nothing lands on the album. Not Julia creeping in too late on Chateau, not the joint singing and straightforward guitar on Cellar Door (“if you call me I’ll be there” – how ever did we live without such golden insights?). Not the back-and-forth of Sleep Alone, nor Angus’s painful spoken-word turn on Make It Out Alive. We kind of wish we didn’t make it out at all, to be honest.
Is this one of the worst albums of the year? It’s a strong contender, so utterly rooted in perfunctory bland that it’s really quite hard to find any redeeming qualities. We’d honestly rather hear a drone on its way to Syria than suffer Angus’s drone on Who Do You Think You Are. Maybe this sibling duo need a break to push themselves, because there’s nothing beautiful and pure about this Snow; instead it’s more akin to the messy slush that’s left after it starts to melt.