The Perfect English Weather - English Winter EP

matinée 095  /  December 2017
The Perfect English Weather - English Winter EP
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The Perfect English Weather - English Winter EP

matinée 095  /  December 2017

Brighton duo The Perfect English Weather return with the new 4-track ‘English Winter’ EP which marks an intriguing departure from last year’s much loved debut album ‘Isobar Blues’. The release sees the duo—Simon and Wendy Pickles—drawing further distinction from their other band The Popguns and taking cues from sophisticated electronica such as St. Etienne while maintaining the strong vocals and impeccable melodies from previous releases.

Lead track ‘Still’ is an emotional, hypnotic slow-burner on the theme of separation and features a collaboration with former Popguns drummer Shaun Charman who is now also part of indie buzzband Jetstream Pony. This is a by-product of some rehearsals that Simon and Shaun did for a Fireworks gig back in 2016 where Simon stepped in on second guitar. Shaun plays the guitar hook on the track along with some live drums, while Simon and Wendy’s daughter, Anna, sings backing vocal to give the track some sublime moments between the two singers.

Being a seasonal release, the EP has to include a holiday song and ‘Christmas In Suburbia’ delivers that in spades. A very, very pretty tune with some affectionate, wry observations on the season, the song references Christmas lights, snow, Prosecco, and Barbie in a Tonka truck!

‘Cold Out’ is a moody, kinda sleepy one about staying in bed and definitely not going out, with the production moving in a distinctly electronic direction. The song references a meeting between Morrissey and Wendy back in 1984 (“it was so surprising when you knew my name”), and curiously Morrissey is also singing about spending the day in bed on his latest release.

The EP concludes with a cover version of the Go-Betweens classic ‘Dusty In Here’. A longtime favourite of the band, this bare and almost ghostly rendition has just Wendy and her acoustic guitar plus Anna again on backing vocals. This is a track that Wendy and Anna performed at the Grant McLennan tribute gig in London back in 2015 and is the perfect closer to the EP.

Limited to 1000 copies in a handsome eco-wallet, ‘English Winter’ is an impressive second release for The Perfect English Weather and another gem for the Matinée discography.

  1. Still
  2. Christmas In Suburbia
  3. Cold Out
  4. Dusty In Here


As 2017 comes to a close, I have been busy compiling my year-end lists while at the same time keeping an ear to the bevy of new releases that have made this a dizzying December like no other in all my years of blogging. Last Friday alone my shopping list grew with the new long player by the Just Joans, the debut single from Elizabeth Morris' new band Elva and a special EP worth much more than a passing mention.It's clear by now Wendy and Simon Pickles of the Popguns are big favorites around here, and the duo in life and in song have resurrected side project the Perfect English Weather with a gorgeous EP that will leave longtime fans surprised and longing for more. When the Perfect English Weather debuted with 'Isobar Blues' around this time last year, I described my No. 2 album of 2016 as Wendy and Simon "turn[ing] it down just a little bit" and "rivaling their best work." Put another way, there were moments that didn't seem so far away from the band from which they are known. The songs on the just released "English Winter EP", however, are not the Pickles Family with a new branch growing from the Popguns tree. This feels more like that Popguns tree dropped a seed and a whole new sapling is sprouting nearby. And like a sapling, these four new songs are fragile. From the first notes of EP opener "Still", you know Wendy and Simon are going for something different. This is electronica that may remind you of St. Etienne, Lightning in a Twilight Hour or the softer side of the Luxembourg Signal. The atmosphere is thick, and the sounds are very contemporary. Shaun Charman, formerly of the Wedding Present and the Popguns, collaborated on this song, as did Wendy and Simon's daughter Anna. No knock on Simon, but I think we know where Anna's beautiful pipes come from. No hyperbole. "Still" will be vying for song of the year on these pages. I'm a real sucker for melancholy holiday songs, and "Christmas in Suburbia" stirred up so many emotions. On the surface, holidays are all about making spirits bright and all of that, but we know that's not always the way, is it? While absorbing the song, one moment I was smiling, and the next I was longing. I know my hometown back in Illinois is nothing like it was when I was growing up, and it has become more and more difficult to return there... especially for the holidays. Everything has changed, including me. What more can you wring out of a three-minute pop song? In keeping with the theme of an English winter, third song "Cold Out" keeps the electronica going and will have you ready for a warm blanket and a good snuggle. The EP concludes with a stripped-down version of "Dusty in Here" featuring Wendy and Anna. This has to be one of your favorites from the 'Before Hollywood' era of the Go-Betweens, and it may very well bring a tear as you listen to this beautiful cover and think of how many songs we could have had in the years since losing Grant McLennan. The always dependable Matinée Recordings is ready to ship the'English Winter EP' to you right now. Give yourself an early Christmas present.--Linear Tracking Lives

New music here from a couple of the Popguns (Wendy and Simon Pickles). A duo, then, but they do have some help along the way including a fomer Popguns drummer and their daughter, Anna, providing backing vocals on a couple of the tracks. There's a Go Betweens cover on here, which is a good indication as to their influences, and also a Christmas song. However, first up is "Still" which is a little more of a departure from The Popguns' sound than was the case with The Perfect English Weather's debut album last year. This first track has something electronica about it with keyboard prominent from the off. "Christmas in Suburbia" does too and is a melancholy Christmas track - the first few lines of which will have you dreaming of a shopping trip to Hamleys in 1995, while "Cold Out" is a touch on the moody side. The Go Betweens cover closes things out and is a pretty and threadbare acoustic version of "Dusty In Here". I think with Wendy and Simon Pickles involved this will always sound like The Popguns but there's more electronica about this one and I'm inclined to agree with the St. Etienne references in the blurb on the label's website. Nice.  --Collective Zine

A little late with this one given the Christmassy Holiday song that features on this EP from Popguns side project The Perfect English Weather who’s previous release, the excellent, Isobar Blues featured on Beat Surrender last winter, the EP is out now on Matinée worldwide in digital format or on a limited edition CD.  Alongside the excellent opening track Still and the lovely seasonal track Christmas In Suburbia are another band original Cold Out and a cover of the Go-Betweens Dusty In Here.--Beat Surrender

More welcomed messages, this time from Jimmy over at Matinée Recordings, been a while, but herewith two festively framed releases just ought that ought to cause a swooning in the indie pop aisles. First up, Brighton based Perfect English Weather with a four track EP entitled ‘English Winter’ – a bit of a beauty this one, not least the opening salvo ‘Still’ which I must admit we weren’t expecting for this shy eyed withdrawing cutie comes turned in a yearning soulful night time murmur hooked upon a delicately cascading and mellowing loop grooved riff motif, in truth something that had us minded of a bruised Frente. And while ‘Still’ might tug at the heartstrings, ‘Christmas in Suburbia’ flickers and twinkles with its adorability settings turned up to maxima, a shimmering snow showered twinkle toned magic land teased and aglow in a lulling and nostalgic sepia glow. --The Sunday Experience

Beautiful, slightly melancholic pop that draws inspiration from several genres. The Brighton duo Wendy and Simon Pickles are also members of the indiepop band The Popguns, but here they get to show a different musical side. More synths and electronic instruments, a more dreamy sound, less fuzzy chords. Wendy’s vocals are really given room to shine here. If I must refer to other artists here, I would say that this sounds like a better version of Saint Etienne mixed with Trembling Blue Stars. Maybe. The EP is out on Matinée Recordings. --Eardrums Music (Best of the Month)

Yet another holiday offering to extend your celebrations and be prepared for next year.  This lovely EP, titled English Winter, is from the duo Simon and Wendy Pickles.  They have thrilled us for years as core members of The Popguns, but this record is from their side project The Perfect English Weather.  English Winter consists of four tracks of subtle, perfectly crafted beauty, three originals and a cover of the Go-Between's "Dusty In Here".  --When You Motor Away

The Popguns side project featuring Simon and Wendy Pickles have just released their new single featuring four gentle tracks including the obligatory Christmas one. The highlights are Still which features the band’s ex drummer Shaun Charman, now of the excellent Jetstream Pony, who contributes on both drums and guitar and the lovely Cold Out. This EP was a revelation on first listen. Maybe I should dig that album out again…. --Records I Like