Review Summary: "Do you still believe in God? / Said the Preacher to the Astronaut / I heard it's kind of lonesome there"
I forget sometimes how personal a form of art music is. Objectivity be damned, I feel strongly that what an artist puts into a piece isn’t quite as important as the listener’s mood, surrounding, and overall setting. Welcome to the Night Sky
is my slice of personal proof for this little truism. It all began a few years ago, when I set out on a distance run. It was a chilly January afternoon and we had a coating of snow the night before. Little did I know that my random choice of an album I hadn’t heard before, Welcome to the Night Sky
, would handily overtake my run for the day in terms of a resounding experience. I have to admit, it didn’t quite sink in at first.
As I glided past snow-covered glades and along deserted country roads, “Drunk On Aluminum” and “Archaeologists” fit in so naturally. “Belly of a whale! Belly of a whale!”
Paul Murphy yells in the lyrically-peculiar song. It wouldn’t be until later that I realized the song is literally based on a story of a a body of a winged-boy being discovered in the stomach of a whale. Most of the lyrics center around the idea of identity, and the loss of it. Instead of going all-out introspective on us though, Wintersleep deliver their message like a story- with catchy, memorable one-liners and easy-to-devour tall tales. This definitely contributes to the catchiness of Welcome to the Night Sky
. As I soared past a clean, white world, the “Do you still believe in God" / Said the preacher to the Astronaut,”
line immediately caught me off guard. I listened; and as soon as I started, I couldn’t stop. It was right around then that I realized I was hearing something much more than your run-of-the-mill indie-rock record. This is surely something special, I remember thinking to myself even though the specific names slipped my mind. Attribute it to luck or simple chance, but as my legs were churning I knew I struck gold with this listen.
Welcome To The Night Sky
takes so much inspiration from similar genres and artists, but manages to distance itself with just
enough factors- a few large but many small. It’s really the mood and ambience that’s very striking. From the simple and distinctly dark album cover to the fireworks that end “Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks,” Wintersleep displays an uncanny ability to create a resounding, titular experience through their intelligent arrangements and concise orchestration. Whether it be a catchy, 2-minute, post-punk, romper (Oblivion) or their magnus opus, the closer, Wintersleep are obviously adept at turning the simple and concise into the heartfelt and tremendous. To figure out how
this is achieved is a little more of a mystery, and the variety on Welcome to the Night Sky
demands that this is examined on a song-by-song basis because of the vast variety found on the album. Take “Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks,” for instance. The first half could easily be found on an Explosions In the Sky album, and a little past halfway, it detonates. It reminds me distinctly of the explosion on Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up,” and it really gets the blood stirring. Wintersleep is energetic when necessary, but also manages to achieve a beautiful result from their more ambient passages to and fro. What I find even more impressive, though, is their ability to change from one mood to the other so seamlessly.
Welcome to the Night Sky
is a strangely joyous record, it makes me want to celebrate something, anything
. The amazingly concise, consistent, and catchy album has single-worthy songs galore (Weighty Ghost, Laser Beams, Drunk On Aluminum) but it’s really so much more fulfilling to digest in one sitting, or in my case “run.” I came back from that run refreshed and rejuvenated. Wintersleep has a knack for doing that- the magnificent album has been a staple in my collection for a relatively long period of time. While I’ll always hold a strong personal affinity for Welcome To the Night Sky
, the emotive choruses, the intriguing ambient, and the spell-binding choruses, Wintersleep placed more than enough on the album for anyone to enjoy, and enjoy it you will.