Track x Track: Charm of Finches - 'Marlinchen in the Snow'

Track x Track: Charm of Finches - 'Marlinchen in the Snow'

Naarm/Melbourne alt-contemporary-folk-pop sister duo take us through their majestic & mysterious fourth album, track by track

Image credit: Supplied

When you think of a band celebrating a decade of making music together, the mind tends to automatically assume the band’s members would be somewhere in their late 20s or more likely, early 30s… This is not the case for Naarm/Melbourne alt-contemporary-folk-pop sister duo Charm of Finches, who crafted their debut EP back in 2014 when Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes were just eleven and fourteen years old.

Fast forward to 2024 and the pair have readied their fourth full-length album, the intriguingly titled Marlinchen in the Snow (Marlinchen being a character in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Juniper Tree). Following on from some awesome singles (and music videos!), Marlinchen in the Snow brings these fairy tale influences to life in LP format, with the eleven songs on the album draped in harmony, melancholy and wonder.

Contributing to the fantastical feel, the album was recorded in the winter wonderland that is Nova Scotia in the middle of winter. Heading into the woods with acclaimed Canadian producer Daniel Ledwell (Jenn Grant, The Once, Oh Pep!), Mabel & Ivy drew inspiration from these frozen landscapes while the album explores concepts including the transient life on the road, belonging and the idea of home, along with the fragility of relationships.

To celebrate the release of Marlinchen in the Snow, Charm of Finches are hitting the road for some shows in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland (see below for dates & deets). They were also kind enough to take us through the new record, track by track - have a listen and get to know!

In 2023, we spent a month in the studio in Nova Scotia, Canada, surrounded by woods, snow and a frozen lake at our doorstep.

A lot of the songs were penned while on a four-month tour around UK/Europe back in 2022, where we reflected on the meaning of home, what it is to belong and relationships when the expanse of the world lies between.

The album title comes from the last song we wrote while in the studio, inspired by a Grimm’s tale ‘The Juniper Tree’. We both remember hearing it as seven-year-olds with not a small amount of fascinated horror. Being holed up in the studio within this fairytale landscape unlocked the memories of this story.

The tale follows a little girl Marlinchen who buries her dead brother before he transforms into a bird singing the truth of his demise at the hands of his stepmother. There’s a lot more to it, but we feel it’s a story of female strength, battling oppressive obstacles and rising above them to pave a path led by your inner voice. These themes inhabit a lot of the songs on the album and in a sense, encapsulate what it’s been like for us as artists.

Clean Cut: Leaving Melbourne for four months on tour in Europe served as the catalyst for a break-up and Clean Cut is some self-advice. We started writing Clean Cut on a friend’s grand piano in Oslo, Norway. The accompanying music video was made with the help of our Melbourne friends who were willing to dress up as dolls and clowns. This was a huge 22-hour warehouse shoot where we recreated  a mysterious haunted doll museum.

Atlantis is a place to retreat to when overcome by intense emotions. We used the analogy of the mythical city of Atlantis which appears in ancient mythologies as a place which, once beautiful, became stagnant and some inhabitants were led out of it and onto a boat pulled by a giant fish to start a new life.  Sometimes we can sink into dark places psychologically, like being underwater. Water for us equates with the emotional life- we just keep gravitating to it in our lyrics.

On My Own is about learning to trust yourself because ultimately you’re responsible for your own happiness. The song embraces imperfections and lauds keeping your own company.

Leave It All Behind: While traveling and playing shows around the world is full of excitement there is always the sadness of leaving behind loved ones.This song paints two worlds - home in Australia and then the wide world of possibilities and new landscapes of touring. There’s this duality between longing for adventure and nestling into the warmth and familiarity of home. Coming from searing hot Australian summer to the icy depths of Nova Scotia, Canada gave us a perfect framework to play with images and feelings to express the polarities of adventure and homeliness.

If You Know Me is about navigating communication in the initial stages of a relationship and having a resting bitch face - haha. When we were recording this song we felt it needed something extra and so we cheekily asked Sam Bentley from The Paper Kites if he might jump on it in some capacity. He came back with an incredible second verse which completed it perfectly.

Temporary Home To continue on the theme of travel, we’ve reflected a lot on the touring lifestyle and how the idea of home seems to be broken down when you spend so much time on the road - a night in each place. Small things like a morning coffee can be a strange familiar comfort. This song definitely feels melancholy but we do have a great time on the road! We wrote this in a hostel in Stockholm when touring around Sweden, we were both feeling pretty homesick. Our tour manager Per commented on the touring life- “It’s just a long series of goodbyes”. We both took out our phones and typed it into our Notes app - it perfectly summed up the experience, so we put it in the song.

Middle Of Your Mess is a reflection on how women sometimes pit themselves against eachother instead of building eachother up. At the time of writing this one, we were listening a lot to Nora Jones’ album ‘Little Broken Hearts’ on repeat and we think some of her brazen brutal honesty was an influence on this song. We made a music video with our lovely gal friends which was inspired by Wes Anderson and Saltburn.

Human: We feel really lucky to have worked with some incredible men in our music career and in life in general. As women, we want to assume that men will treat us with respect and human decency but unfortunately, it feels inevitable that you come across those who appear at first to be trustworthy yet violate your boundaries, leaving you questioning your level of trust and how much of a guard to put up. This song gives the middle finger to any man who treats us less than human.

Bend and Break: We had the great privilege of visiting the beautiful Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula for a songwriting residency back in 2022. Soaking in natural spring baths among a symphony of frog calls, the soft wiring of damselflies and native birdsong was the backing track to the writing of this one. We then finished the song later that year in a green room in Sheffield, England.

Marlinchen in the Snow: This was the very last song we wrote for the album, one snowy night in Dan’s studio just outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We stayed in the studio for a month which was about 100m from Dan’s house and in the woods, with a frozen lake at our doorstep. This environment reminded us of the fairytales we were told as kids, set in a forest of firs. There is one Grimm’s FairyTale we both remember which always disturbed us as children called ‘The Juniper Tree’. It’s pretty creepy and probably needs a bit of a trigger warning.  It tells of how Marlinchen discovers the death of her stepbrother at the hands of her mother. She then plants his bones underneath the Juniper tree which transforms him into a phoenix. There's lots of symbolism in the story but really, it’s about female strength and intuition and overcoming obstacles led by your inner voice which is a theme throughout the album.

In The Dark: We recommend this song for a playful boogie in the firelight.

          - Mabel Windred-Wornes & Ivy Windred-Wornes, April 2024

Charm of Finches new album Marlinchen in the Snow is out now via Spunk Records

Marlinchen in the Snow by Charm of Finches Album Artwork

CHARM OF FINCHES AUS DATES
Sun 21 April - The Bridge Hotel, CASTLEMAINE, VIC
Wed 24 April - Old Stone Hall, BEECHWORTH, VIC
Thu 25 April - Northcote Social Club, MELBOURNE, VIC
Fri 26 April - Archies Creek Hotel, VIC
Sat 27 April - Noarlunga Arts Centre, SA
Sun 28 April - Wheatsheaf Hotel, ADELAIDE, SA
Wed 1 May - Eudlo Hall, Eudlo, SUNSHINE COAST, QLD
Thu 2 May - Stranded Bar, BRISBANE, QLD

Follow Charm of Finches: Instagram / Facebook

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