Reviews Reunions Winter Heart, Summer Skin


Winter Heart, Summer Skin

I must have slowed down over the years. At least I hope my recent interest in bands like Reunions or Nightmarathons reflects my now 40 years-old perspective more than it reflects of some kind of nostalgia bender. Because I’m truly enjoying these mid-tempo rising tide records, including this new self-released Winter Heart, Summer Skin that’s heavy on the hardcore-inspired emocore style of the mid-to-late 1990s (think Hot Water Music, who I overly namedropped in my previous Reunions review).

Starting with the metaphors, Winter Heart, Summer Skin is a really great name to describe the band’s sound. Weirdly I’ve found a few melodic punk bands from California that I think of as winter music. While I doubt Reunions truly knows what it feels like to layer up and shovel a foot of snow in subzero temperatures, this music is complex: sometimes beautiful and sometimes grueling. The dual guitars and layered vocals are constantly shifting gears that reflect a difficult range of emotions. For all my talk of conflicting emotions and complex concepts, the songs are straight-forward and accessible. 

There are a lot of songs I could pull from to go into depth. Opening track “Light Left On” is as good an example as any, with driving percussion, wall of sound guitar and bass, and dual vocals that harmonize for big moments in the chorus while letting the lead convey a powerful vulnerability during the verses. Then the rising guitar builds and builds as the song progresses.

Reunions are a sum of the parts. The drums are the shining light in “Sentimentality Is For Suckers,” a big crescendo adds some emotive oompf to “An Endless Night, A Century,” and things get a bit heavier with the shouted vocals of “Sheet Metal Grey.” Overall, the songs are dense but flow effortlessly, totaling 10 songs in just half-an-hour, which is a big part of why this record is so strong overall. There’s a lot to unpack here, but the record is an adventure, not a tome.

Winter Heart, Summer Skin is the kind of record that’s pretty good on first listen and only grows on you with a closer listen. There’s a lot of subtlty interwoven into the familiar verse-chorus-verse structures and it generally takes sitting down and absorbing it as compared to thrashing around at a show for that depth to sink in. Nowadays, my most valuable time is spent with a laptop, headphones and a quiet room instead of staying up late at night and dancing in the pit. This record fits that perfectly. (Of course, I’m sure it’s great live too.)

7.8 / 10Loren
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7.8 / 10

7.8 / 10

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