Snowfall: Halfway Devil – Review

In the absence of any genuine snow in the city so far this Winter, indieBerlin have been making do with a more musical kind of Snowfall.

The Berlin band released their first full-length album – Halfway Devil – at the start of February and it’s been growing on us ever since.

Snowfall is the musical baby of actress and singer Birte Hanusrichter and producer-musician Oliver Anders Hendriksson. The pair began playing together as one half of the folk group Young Chinese Dogs, who released two full-lengths in 2013 and 2015. Taking a more experimental turn, Hanusrichter and Hendriksson then wrote and released a four-track EP under the new name, Snowfall, in 2017.

Snowfall is the musical baby of actress and singer Birte Hanusrichter and producer-musician Oliver Anders Hendriksson

Their new album comprises the next progression in the sound of Snowfall – retaining folk and blues roots but throwing in much more instrumentation and distortion. The band interchangeably refer to themselves as ‘pop noir’ and ‘dance punk’, with neither being wholly inaccurate. Opener ‘The War’, while fitting the rest of the album in overall moody tone, wrong-foots the listener from the start with a sole vocal intro that leads into a syncopated indie shuffle.

The title track that follows starts out as a dreamily dark, electro-led number, before Hanusrichter diverts us again, with a punky, layered vocal for the chorus. In rockier moments, the singer is reminiscent of Courtney Love in the early days of Hole. In others, her voice gets closer to the breathless, trip-hop style of Róisín Murphy.

The band interchangeably refer to themselves as ‘pop noir’ and ‘dance punk’, with neither being wholly inaccurate

The album’s highlight is lead single ‘Mister Mister’, released on its own in November last year. The song is a perfect microcosm of an album so diverse in its influences. ‘I come out of my skin, won’t you come on out?’, Hanusrichter’s languid vocals taunt. The production here is at its best too, with the slowed-down rhythm and simple power chords combining to sound like something you’re sure you heard at a dingy punk-rock house-party back in the nineties.

The early EP tracks make it onto the second half of Halfway Devil too and serve as a fitting coda to the full set of songs. ‘Fall’ and ‘Marry Me’, with their bluegrass feel and ‘kick-clap’ breakdowns, are not a dissimilar sound to that of The Handsome Family (of True Detective theme fame).

The album’s highlight is lead single ‘Mister Mister’, released on its own in November last year

Snowfall’s end result is a pleasing debut, demonstrating a smart songwriting style and neat production. Halfway Devil seems completely the sum of a couple of folkies exercising their punk-rock upbringings through the prism of Berlin’s electronic environment. And we are very much OK with that. Who needs real snowfall anyway?

You can listen to Halfway Devil on Spotify now.

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