Review Summary: Wintersleep continue to develop and flesh out their craft, and sound really good doing it.
The release of New Inheritors
sees Wintersleep in an interesting position. Each of the band's first three records were met with varying degrees of acclaim – their self-titled debut and untitled sophomore efforts were well-received locally, and Welcome to the Night Sky
even won a Juno for best new artist in 2007 – but they haven't exactly hit it big yet. Whether or not New Inheritors
actually becomes Wintersleep's breakthrough record remains to be seen, but it's catchy enough to appeal to a wider audience. That isn't to say Wintersleep confine themselves to popular alternative rock aesthetic; though they certainly have a solid grasp of this, there is a lot more going on. In a way, New Inheritors
both expands on the elements found in Welcome to the Night Sky
, while still covering new ground. Wintersleep haven't lost any of the charm that has been a staple in their music, but this time around they get more creative instrumentally.
Frontman Paul Murphy has always been rather important to Wintersleep's sound. He was the main draw on cuts like "Weighty Ghost" and especially "Astronaut", both of which combined fairly insightful lyricism and super catchy hooks exceedingly well. Although Murphy remains a significant member (just listen to "Terrible Man"), New Inheritors
sees the rest of the band step up their game, to great successes. The album is simply bigger, louder, and dare I say better off for it. It's no coincidence that New Inheritors
' best songs are the ones which see Wintersleep loosen up. The long, guitar-heavy instrumental passages featured in "Mausoleum" are the strongest example of this new found prowess, and considering the accompanying pop flare, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to call it one of the band's better songs. And though much of New Inheritors
features some sort of instrumental break, not all are based around driving guitar rock. The prominence of jangling guitars in "Echolocation" make for a nice change in pace, while "Experience the Jewel" has a sparser build, before going all out in the final minute.
isn't devoid of peppier moments. "Black Camera", "Encyclopedia" and even the title track represent a collection of more upbeat works. The album lacks a truly experimental piece ala "Miasmal Smoke & the Yellow Bellied Freaks" (the closest we get is a shorter emotional build up in "Baltic"), but given the album's modest structuring, this is hardly a problem. If that makes New Inheritors
a bit of a safe album, so be it. More importantly, it sees Wintersleep develop and flesh out their craft, and sound really good doing it.