Fairies Flying in to Bring a Dark Edge to Yuletide ; the Dream Pop Duo Want to Bring a Melancholic Tone to the British Soundtrack of Christmas

By Sue, David | Manchester Evening News, December 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

Fairies Flying in to Bring a Dark Edge to Yuletide ; the Dream Pop Duo Want to Bring a Melancholic Tone to the British Soundtrack of Christmas


Sue, David, Manchester Evening News


MUSICIAN Katherine Blamire - one half of the acclaimed British dream-pop duo Smoke Fairies - is recalling, with palpable anguish, her most recent Christmas shopping excursion.

"I just wanted to scream," she laughs. "I was stuck in this queue in TK Maxx, surrounded by kids, and there was this awful Christmas compilation blaring out of the speakers. I just thought, 'is this the meaning of Christmas?'" When she's not experiencing meltdowns in department stores, however, Blamire - alongside her Smoke Fairies bandmate Jessica Davies - prefers to vent her festive frustrations in rather more alluring fashion: through the medium of songwriting.

Sensing how they weren't the only ones feeling alienated by what they call, "the mass commercialisation of Christmas", the Londonbased duo's latest album, Wild Winter, sets about creating an alternative soundtrack to the Yuletide season.

Needless to say, an exercise in saccharine, tinsel-decked Mariah Carey balladry it most certainly isn't.

Powered by tremulous guitars, desert-rock soundscapes and the girls' trademark spectral harmonies, Wild Winter looks beyond the frivolities of Black Friday deals and John Lewis ads and strives for something altogether more intimate.

It's a Christmas album less for boorish office parties and more for wintry introspection; huddled next to a log fire, sipping mulled wine and reflecting wistfully on another year gone by.

"We wanted to make an album that looked beyond the glossy, commercialised surface of Christmas," Blamire explains "Commercialisation has basically taken over and spoiled something that could be so beautiful.

"We all end up subscribing to it, but there's a lot of people who don't want all this happy music and need for shopping being shoved down their throats.

Christmas can be a melancholic time, and we wanted to really embrace that."

Indeed, far from offering a Scroogey take on the festive season ("We do like Christmas, just not what it's become"), Wild Winter belongs to a long tradition of Christmas music that taps into a distinctively English strain of wintry melancholia. …

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