The Long Winters
Putting the Days to Bed
[Barsuk Records – July 25 06]
*Sixeyes Score: 8.0 out of 10
Review by JP Swenson
I've heard a lot about The Long Winters but I'd never really given them much attention until I was trying to decide what album to next review, and I was fairly nonplussed and a little perplexed at all the hullabaloo about them when I first heard this their new album, Putting the Days to Bed. After a few listens, though, I started to get it, to think about the lyrics and the people being sung about. This is really good, thoughtful, timeless pop. If you like melodic pop-rock that essentially sounds like it could have been written anytime in the past 20 years, then you'll like this album. However, if you prefer your music with a little more experimentation or to have a "Made in 2006" stamp on it, then you might want to steer clear. It's refined, straightforward guitar rock in the vein of The Posies (splendid power pop), Barsuk label-mate John Vanderslice (in lyrical depth and vocal style), or Harvey Danger (whose singer, Sean Nelson, guests on this album), and that's not a bad thing (Other guests on the album are The Fastbacks' Kurt Bloch and Death Cab's Chris Walla). One thing that struck me at first was how similar singer/lyricist John Roderick sounds to John Vanderslice, which is nice; I like John Vanderslice. They sing loudly and clearly and sometimes over-enunciate their words.
The ebullient opening track, "Pushover", is pretty representative of the whole thing: loud/soft dynamics, layers of guitars, crystal clear melodic vocals with good backing harmonies. "Hindsight" and "Clouds" have some nice harmonies and a pleasant countryish vibe. "Rich Wife" stands out because of its key changes; "(It's A) Departure" has some nice rhythmic changes during the chorus and joyous horn section joins the band during the bridge. Overall, what could be basic guitar pop is bolstered by solid production & mixing, with a few tasteful stylistic surprises (such as pedal steel guitar and the occasional horn section) that keep the songs intriguing. Overall, this is solid, meat and potatoes guitar pop that grows on you with repeated listening.
JP Swenson is a musician and English major who loves to misspell and misuse words. He is fascinated by regional accents and is somewhat ashamed that as a native Pacific Northwesterner, he has no accent.