CD Review - Untitled by Wintersleep

Monday, November 13, 2006

Written by Mike Eagles and Bob Przybyla

Listening with my headphones on I am surrounded by the woven notes and chords of “nerves normal, breathe normal”. The audio bouncing back and forth between the left and right channels. The stereo tug of war pulling on my ears pulls me apart as Paul Murphy’s vocals flow right through the middle. This holds true for all of the songs on Wintersleep’s Untitled album which came out in early March. The music mirrors the cover art: soft edges and understated. Right from the start of the album the track “lipstick” sets the mood. The two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals work as one, blurring the lines between each layer of the music.

In listening to Wintersleep’s sophomore album, two impressions were left on us. First, these guys know what they’re doing as each song flows so well. When listening, everything sounds perfectly in place; as if every note, lyric, chord, and beat was put there for a reason and has a specific function. There is nothing jarring to the listener. Which brings me to the second thought: I have a new relaxation CD. From start to finish this album is a 42 minute mellow ride. The harmonies and subtle nuances throughout put the listener at ease. They do occasionally tap into their harder roots like in the song “danse macabre”. Even then, these guys move so seamlessly that your body just naturally follows when they drop it down a notch in the middle of the song and when they pick it up again to finish.

This album is not going to get your head banging, you’re probably not going to bust a move, and you certainly won’t be clenching your muscles during this album. Instead, you’re going to close your eyes, nod your head, tap your foot with the beat and let the lyrics invade your head. These lyrics are what they call “accessible.” You will be able to relate, even if it is just to the intonation of Murphy’s voice. Lyrically, themes ranging from relationships to critiques of human behavior are treated both carefully and harmoniously, providing a soft poetic feel to the album.

Although musically utilizing distorted, driving, ‘new rock’ progressions in songs like “nerves normal, breath normal”, “faithful guide” and “danse macabre”, Paul Murphy’s vocal’s maintain a steady ambiance throughout the album. Murphy’s unique vocal style and tonality provides the foundation to which the band is able to navigate between a variety of musical styles from melodic acoustic tracks, to driving ‘new rock’ progressions. One of the more unique aspects of the album is a seemingly ‘minimalist approach’ (“listen [listen, listen]”, “a long flight” and “people talk”) wherein Murphy’s rich vocals are allowed to carry a section backed by a single instrument. The ‘rough’ nature of the recoding lacks the sterility common to many modern recordings and works to compliment the rich tonality of Murphy’s voice. Our advice is to sit back, relax and give this album a listen, or you can check them out at the Vinyl on November 24th with Bry Webb and Wooly Leaves.

[Dependent; 2006]

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