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Amy Klein - Winter/Time Music Album Reviews

The interwoven guitars, synths, and cymbal crashes of Amy Klein’s second solo album are gale-force, but its opaque lyrics and muted vocals are indirect and timid.

A“paracosm”—the literary term Amy Klein has said inspired her second solo album, Winter/Time—is an elaborate world of people and places formed in a child’s imagination. Klein, a punk veteran who’s toured with Titus Andronicus and performed as half of the band Hilly Eye, invites the listener into her own such fantasies on this record, offering dream logic and the occasional bewilderment. It can also feel like an escape from what she’s done so well before, its few instances of punk brashness ceding to soft, falsetto balladry.


Winter/Time’s cover art—an ethereal woman striding through a blurry, painted forest—suggests the LP’s tone and its motif of a hero’s journey. The album strikes a delicate balance throughout: Its interwoven guitars, synths, and cymbal crashes are gale-force, but its opaque lyrics and muted vocals are indirect and timid. “Come to You” begins soft and hesitant before revealing a percolating synth line, and Klein’s lyrics remain hardly discernible throughout, deployed in a near-whispered quaver that fails to suggest any emotional stakes. She sings of being chased by her past, but there’s no menace in that pursuit. On “Winter,” the opening rumble of electric chords and Cocteau Twins-style trills signal intensity, but even the crackling guitars—deep and dark like a storm front—don’t push Klein’s delivery above a shrug. “Can I see the light?” she wonders, not convincing us that she’s been on a shrouded path of any real consequence.

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The album doesn’t stray from this vagueness with the exception of opener “Nothing,” the only track that finds Klein believably ferocious. Driving electric guitar jolts behind her as she wails, breathy and doused in reverb, about a snow-blindness so bright she nearly disappears within it. This urgency sets the song apart from the rest of the album; it sounds more like a psychedelic Dungeons and Dragons battle than the tentative questing heroine of later tracks. This directness—from the chorus’ imperative to the impatient guitars, their feedback underscoring urgency—serves Klein’s fevered electric riffs well.

Closer “One More Time” mirrors the savagery of “Nothing,” and is another glimpse at what Winter/Time might have been if its midsection had similar adrenaline. It offers a confident, backward glance at a former self whose “hands used to shake,” and it hums along like a ’80s radio punk anthem, synthesizers underscoring elemental mentions of fire and sparks. “I could burn right through you,” she vows, with compelling force. This is when Klein wields her axe like she’s ready for battle, a welcome departure from several songs less sure in their step. But what exactly is she fighting? Who is the “you” through whom she would blaze, triumphant? It’s frustratingly unclear. A fantasy world needs scaffolding, constraints that center us in time and place, to make it relatable. Without a glimpse of the horizon, we’re left snow-blind, too.


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About Udara Madusanka

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