In certain corners of the record-collecting world, few rock songs are revered as much as The Chills’ “Pink Frost.” The tune turns 30 this year, and to celebrate, the band has re-recorded it and included it as the B-side to its first single since 1995.
Before we get any further, if you’re not familiar with The Chills or the original “Pink Frost,” please stop what you’re doing right now and listen to this.
Led by songwriter Martin Phillipps, the indie-rock band from Dunedin, New Zealand, helped kick-off the “kiwi rock” movement — and arguably indie rock as we know it — in the early 1980s. Bands like The Clean, The Verlaines and The Bats took the D.I.Y. punk ethos of the late ’70s and applied it to melodies that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Kinks record. (A similar musical evolution was happening in the U.S., with R.E.M. leading the way.)
“Pink Frost” was recorded in 1982 but released two years later, after the death of the song’s drummer Martyn Bull from leukemia, so Phillipps’ distraught lyrics (“She won’t move and I’m holding her hand”) have always felt especially melancholy. Paired with the song’s signature ethereal guitar and motorik drumming, it’s a haunting experience that still stops me in my tracks.
Now, 30 years later, The Chills will soon release a new album. The band recorded an updated version of “Pink Frost” while in the studio, to reflect the way the band currently performs it in a live setting.
If you’re a Chills fan, what do you think of re-recording a classic like “Pink Frost”? If you’re new to the band, which version do you prefer?