Song: Pink Frost
Artist: The Chills
Songwriters: Martin Phillipps, Martyn Bull, Terry Moore
AlbumKaleidoscope World
Release date: 1984 (single), 1986 (album)
Genre: Alternative/Indie
Key: A Major

Chords in Key:

I

ii

iii

IV

V

vi

vii

A

Bm

C#m

D

E

F#m

G#°

Pink Frost is written for vocals, guitar, bass and drums. It is considered iconic as part of the “Dunedin Sound”. The guitar and bass both play melody lines, which is generally uncharacteristic of the bass guitar. This combination with a large amount of reverb on the vocals is common in bands from the 1980s, often thought of as having a goth sound (for an international example, listen to Disorder by Joy Division). 

Intro

The intro begins with polyphonic, repeating melodies on bass and guitar over the tonic chord. This is followed by what could be considered a coda to the intro, where it repeats a four-chord progression followed by two bars of a mixture chord. This is an unusually complex intro in the rock music world, having two chord progressions with sections in between joining them.

Verse

Chords: vi - V - I  
The verse begins with an instrumental version of the chord progression. Because of the pre-verse coming after the previously mentioned mixture chord, it gives the impression of an authentic cadence at the start of the chord progression. However, the vocals do not enter where we expect, making the progression feel like it’s been re-arranged. The vocals are followed by a further brief instrumental over the same chord progression, followed by the chorus chord progression as a form of pre-chorus.

Chorus

The chorus is harmonically simple, using only two chords, however the tonic is in the first inversion. This helps avoid a feeling of resolution that a cadence would bring, and emphasises the uncertainty in the lyrics which repeat an unanswered question “What can I do if she dies?”

Bridge

Key Change to F# Minor

Chords In Key:

I

ii

iii

IV

V

vi

vii

F#

G#m

A#m

B

C#

D#m

E#°


The bridge begins as the other sections do with an intro. It changes key by using pivot chords to smoothly modulate. The key change only becomes apparent when the subdominant minor is used. The tonal centre is now F#m so should be viewed as a shift to the relative minor, also known as the Aeolian mode.

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