Charm of Finches “Marlinchen in the Snow”

Spunk Records, 2024

Heady, ethereal chamber folk from Australian sibling duo.

Charm of Finches 'Marlinchen in the Snow' Cover artCharm of Finches are an Australian duo comprising sisters Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes, and ‘Marlinchen in the Snow’ is their fourth album release. Recorded in Nova Scotia, Canada, with producer Daniel Ledwell, it is a moody and evocative collection of songs, with the siblings’ voices often hushed, muted, and yet somehow elevated above quietly shimmering soundscapes, whispering haunted musings into our ear. 

There is a distinct, slightly murky sound of the record – for a producer, it’s a difficult balance between giving an album a sonic identity, and allowing each song to breathe its own life. On the whole, Ledwell achieves this, though it may take a few listens to allow the songs to separate. However, it is well worth the effort to get there, as this is a work of significant depth, that gradually reveals layers of meaning, both lyrically and musically. 

‘Clean Cut’ is a crisp opening song, with a poppy sheen to the music, and an urgent rhythm which leads to a somewhat soaring chorus where the sisters combine for a tight, falsetto-led vocal. It’s a really strong statement of intent.

‘Atlanta’ follows this, and is a slower, moodier piece, the delicate, gossamer chorus giving the first hint that things are only going to get deeper. This really sets the template for what is to follow, with percussion so muted it sounds like it’s being played underwater, and a swaying, eyes-closed rhythm. ‘Human’ has an almost Portishead kind of feel, with a sparse, tremolo shimmer to its music, and a singularly pointed chorus line – “It’s not my job to teach you how to be a human”. 

The title track comes late in the record, and actually feels like there is less weight in the production, with a softly finger picked acoustic guitar letting the harmonies really come through. That belies the subject matter of the original story of Marlinchen, which is from the Grimm Brothers collection, and is a particularly deep dive into the darkest recesses of the human psyche. Marlinchen herself, though, represents a healing character in the story, entwined in the darkness and yet offering hope to the suffering. 

Ultimately, Charm of Finches provide that hope themselves, though it may be measured and perhaps even uncertain at times. This is a record full of stories and spirits, and given an opportunity, will weave its own charms into your life. 

8/10
8/10

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