I was eating a burrito at the local Chipotle on Monday because until earlier that morning my car was stuck within a deep drift of icy snow. We were on our way to replenish our depleted pantry, but we needed lunch. The point is, I was sitting there eating my food when I heard something over the speakers that sparked a memory. What seemed super faint at the start came rushing back with beautiful clarity: one of the greatest, most-haunting pop songs ever made.
During the 80s the Chills were the darlings of New Zealand’s fertile pop landscape, the one documented by the great Flying Nun Records. The band’s sole constant among endlessly shifting lineups was Martin Phillipps, a true pop auteur who never got his just due. The band cut a couple of albums for Warner Brothers in the 90s, both of which contained some sublime moments, but they never matched the group’s 80s heyday.
It had been many years since I’d heard or thought about the Chills when I noticed those melancholy strains of “Pink Frost,” a song recorded in 1982 but not released until 1984—it was a few years more before I got to hear it for the first time—but it plunged me into a pleasant memory hole that proves the band’s singles comp Kaleidoscope World is as good I remember. But “Pink Frost” is on another level—delicate, spooky, and vulnerable. A lot of vintage Flying Nun material has been reissued in recent years, including Kaleidoscope World—what are you waiting for? You can watch the original video for “Pink Frost,” today’s 12 O’Clock Track, after the jump.