Wildbirds And Peacedrums Continue To Refine Their Primal Sound

Rivers proves to be an intense, yet controlled listening experience.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums


Released on Aug 24, 2010


I first heard of Wildbirds & Peacedrums when they opened for a St. Vincent show I was at this past spring. Normally, I’m terrible when it comes to paying attention to opening bands. I rarely view them as the emerging talent that they often are, and instead catch up on my people-watching and e-mail checking. However, when this Swedish husband-wife duo took the stage with their minimal set up (just a drum set and a few large drums scattered about), I decided that I may want to pay attention. 

I’m thrilled that I did. Not only do they have an incredible amount of energy when performing, they are also quite innovative. Half of the time, you feel like you’re in a drum circle that took a little bit of acid beforehand, and the other half of the time you feel like you should be in church thanks to Mariam Wallentin’s angelic (and at times, tortured) vocals. Needless to say, I immediately snatched up the two albums they had for sale. 

Rivers is a collection of two vinyl EPs—Retina and Iris—that were released in May and June, respectively. While this may seem like a recipe for a disjointed album, Rivers flows (yes, the pun must stay) well throughout its 10-song tracklist. Retina has a slightly spookier and more full-bodied sound to it, which can be attributed to the duo’s decision to record that EP in a church in Iceland with the Schola Cantorum Choir. I can’t say enough about how obsessed I am with their decision to include this 12-person choir. Yes, I just gushed over their strength and energy as a duo, but when you combine a talented duo with an ethereal choir, you get amazing results. The best example of this collaboration is “Fight For Me.” It features the duo’s interesting percussion, but features great vocal echoes from the choir and an amazing build-up to the climax of the song. The result is a haunting and stirring song full of pleading, yet powerful vocals from both the choir and Wallentin.  

While “Tiny Holes In This World” doesn’t keep up with the pace of “Fight For Me,” it’s a gorgeous, meditative track that reminds listeners of the beauty of Wallentin’s voice. What’s wonderful about her vocal quality is that she sounds so effortless and grounded, even when she’s reaching the end of her range. It just seems like she was meant to sing, and her natural ability is on full display.  

Iris is certainly more stripped-down in its sound, considering the lack of choir present here, but it’s great to get back to the two of them for a few songs. “The Wave” and “The Well” are my two favorite tracks fromIris. “The Wave” shows how well Wallentin’s voice can move a song along, without much help from the percussion end, and “The Well” does the exact opposite. It shows how able she is to be the secondary focus in a song, since all of the focus is placed on the fast-paced steel drum melody. With all of this in mind, Rivers is a wholly gorgeous album that makes the listener want to sit and absorb all of the different sounds and feelings that this duo (and a few of their friends) have produced. 

High Point

The energy in “Fight For Me” is intoxicating, and it’s the best use of the choir.

Low Point

While I can’t get enough of the steel drums on “The Well,” the steel drum part on “The Drop” is a little too kitschy for my taste.

Posted by Alyssa Vincent on Aug 24, 2010 @ 7:07 am

wildbirds and peacedrums, rivers, review