There is an art of building a song, to creating understated atmosphere and tingling anticipation before unleashing into the musical Sturm und Drang that is the pay-off. And if part of that art is to keep the listener hanging on for as long as possible until they have abandoned all hope that there is even a pay-off to be had or that the wait and anticipation has become too much then First The Winter deserve a mantlepiece full of awards, probably in categories such as “Tantalising the Listener” and “Screwing with Expectations.”
Three-fifths of the song is a gentle toying with the listener. Subtle and supple vocal blends, gorgeous intertwined boy/girl harmonies of the sort that would have Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan looking over their shoulder, set the scene before the song rips open into anthemic acoustica underpinned by chiming piano and sweeping strings.
It is a masterclass in keeping something back, of building dynamic, of the power of the vocal understatement before shifting into a higher gear and resolving and releasing all that beautifully pent up energy. As gorgeous as it is effective.