Infinity Crush – when we're snow
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Record Label: Birdtapes
College Park, Maryland has given us a veritable bounty of astounding lo-fi pop projects this year, from the new (Julia Brown) to the established (Coma Cinema). From the former band springs Infinity Crush, a project fronted by Caroline White, who’s voice was teased on to be close to you but rarely drew much attention. That made sense: Julia Brown’s debut was aiming for and hit a very specific aesthetic, and White’s voice would not have made as much sense as Sam Ray’s for that endgame. Not so on when we’re snow, where White’s voice is so prominent that it’s deceptively easy to fall into the habit of forgetting that at least nominally, it includes another member in Dan Cordero.
Let’s not mince words: calling to mind snowy landscapes in both word and timbre, White’s voice is stunningly weathered and haunting, perfectly suited to the slow, sad trudge of the music on these eight tracks. The closest comparison among her contemporaries would be Laura Stevenson, the two don’t share much beyond a warbling, tender voice and their gender. Or, maybe, her voice is most apt for those dusky evenings where the sky is doused in orange, streaked with orchid, and the temperature is rapidly cooling from its highest climbs. It’ a piece of home and hearth that one can’t help but long for when you’re a great distance away and it’s a vestige of a long-dead romance. No new lovers will be won over with these songs, the melancholy tone and lyrics see to that; but through the imagination, one can envision White’s grasp of yearning being contorted into something resembling traditional love songs for one currently held dear.
Twice, lyrics about White holding her breath appear, and each in a denomination of twenty. It’s small lyrical turns like this that begin to paint a personal picture, a subtlety that gives lie to the origin of the words. The specificity of the number of seconds the act took can not be a coincidence, and if it happens to be, then it is a happy one, because it strengthens the records appeal. On highlight “Alaskan spring break,” she casts herself as “your melting snow” and “your pet,” then closes by demanding that she be “choked by your spring fingers,” and to let her whimper. Watching someone be destroyed by their love is disheartening in any conditions, and White conveys the entirety of such a relationship convincingly in just over two minutes.
The length leaves little room for error – thankfully there are few, if any, that are readily apparent. Even the “professional” mistake of the audible fingers sliding on guitar strings is a heartwarming effect that under-girds the superb songwriting. White’s gift for writing sublimely attractive songs is at the fore, though the songs rarely achieve the sort of “catchiness” you might assume would come from a pop release. This is less of a shortcoming than it is a deliberate effect, because the songs are short enough that they might function as wholly enticing independent entities. The tune to the verses will leave seemingly random lines jutting out in your mind like twigs after a snowfall, catching your ear and beckoning for you to return to the album.
That this record is less than twenty minutes long and so immediately gratifying gifts it almost endless replay value, something to be turned on and pored over without pause for hours so that you might properly explore the cracks and crannies in White’s croon. when we’re snow is not the best release this year, but it is damn close, and it comes from a surprising corner in the little-known indie-pop band’s even lesser known side project. That you might find much to significantly fault with Infinity Crush’s newest in a surprisingly extensive string of releases seems unlikely, because it’s appeal is grounded in principles that nearly all of us hold dear to the heart. It seems that Infinity Crush has made a record that will grow nearly as close to mine as those very same principles.