It’s always good to hear when a band figures itself out.
In the case of Wind Up Radio Sessions, the band had two rows it could go down. The band’s debut album, Red Brick House, showed two distinctive sounds. The first was a quieter, coffee-shop-type vibe such as in the playful opener “Me and My Doe.” But the band could also get loud with songs like “Nairobi.”
Bird Eyes is the band’s second full-length album, and they’ve definitely chosen the mellower path, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be loud every once in a while. Dan Mangan can get away with being folky and loud at the same time, so why can’t Wind Up Radio Sessions?
The result is certainly a warmer sound. With a wider embrace of the folk-rock genre, the band’s songs radiate with more emotion than ever before. All the proof you need is in the song “Family Bonds,” a gentle song about the pressures of family life.
The opener “Little Bird” is a solid folk-rock number and a great way to open the album. It is followed by “Backporch” which features, as far as I can tell, some synths in addition to your regular instrumental setup. It’s the only song that uses it, making it seem a little out of place, but it’s nonetheless an enjoyable number and unmistakably the band’s own.
“To Be Alone” and “Chesterfields” are two songs that show off the band’s more melodic side. Both songs feature some vocals at the beginning but most of the song is given to extended instrumental solos. While the solos can be cool, the two songs lose a little bit of memorability.
One of my favourite songs was “Legally Dead,” a five-minute piece that shows what this band is fully capable of. Warm instrumentals, great vocals and even some great stop-time towards the end as the band sings “Legally dead/And fully alive.”
The album draws to a close with the gentle “Blades of Grass,” a song as gentle as the song title suggests.
Wind Up Radio Sessions have chosen their path well. For a future release I’d like to hear a little more vocals and fewer instrumental jams, but that’s just my own personal preference. Some of these songs probably translate better when performed live.
Bird Eyes will be out May 24th, via Bandcamp. In the meantime, you can stream “Little Bird” at the bottom of this review.
Top Tracks:”Little Bird”; “Legally Dead”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)