Winterbrief – Complaints from the Beauty Class

Complaints from the Beauty Class

I was a child of the 80s. Well, actually, I was a young child in the 70s, but I still considered myself a child in the 80s. But growing up in those years had made me thoroughly disgusted with most 80s music. Synthesizers were overplayed, and bight colors and stupid hairstyles got old quick. Of course, it’s two decades later now (boy I feel old), and music has changed a lot. But it’s clear to see that synthesizers are making a comeback, and, surprisingly, I don’t mind much.

Winterbrief is two people, Jan and Julian, playing guitar and bass and lots of keyboards. The keyboards supply all the drum-beats and hand-claps as well as the usual synthesized pop sounds. And this is great pop, with sing-along sweet vocals that sometimes hide a biting edge to the lyrics. Instead of using a keyboard backing, this duo made the keyboards intricate, and therefore it’s not one-dimensional. The sounds, and how they flow with the standard poppy quality of the music, is pretty impressive. And I can’t listen to this album without wanting to bounce around and sing along.

“Glow-We” has a bouncy, urgent quality with backing “hey hey”‘s that remind me of Bis’ New Transistor Heroes album. “Me and P St. Beach” has a rolling quality to the vocals with a very pretty chorus of “how can this be love?”, and Julian’s backing “yeah-yeah” is a nice touch. “I Want to Be Sexy” is faux-French, a diatribe on why the French should not have a monopoly on sexy talk. “abDC” has a nice touch of urgent pop to the vocals and more of a rock sound accompaniment. I can’t get over the Bis comparison, but a lot of bands try to play this style of pop, usually not quite so clean, cute, and fun. “Art-loft Rebel” is an especially playful song, with “na-na-na-na-na-na” in the background. At times Jan sounds like she has an English accent, no more so than the extremely 80’s-sounding “Mr. Majority.” And “Tricks of the Trade” finishes off with a spacey-pop feel, plenty of synthesized effects and fiddling.

Winterbrief play the bouncy, cheerful sounding synthesized pop, the kind that makes you want to sing along and drag that old Casio from 1982 out from the attic. It’s hard to look beyond the pretty pop to the lyrics beneath, where Jan sings about thinking for yourself, about role models, and about the band’s own societal views. But that’s ok, cuz sometimes the pop is enough.