New Music: Wintersleep’s ‘The Great Detachment’

This week Wintersleep’s newest and sixth album, ‘The Great Detachment’ will see the light of day. Their first album since 2012’s ‘Hello Hum’, but more importantly almost nine years since ‘Welcome To The Night Sky’, it’s an opportunity to escape the long shadow of their ‘Weighty Ghost’ (not to mention their former manager) and they stand a good chance with ‘Amerika’.

For a moment, in the album’s first bars it’s almost possible to forget you’re not, in fact, listening to The Pixies. Which is fine, because The Pixies are great. But the melodically upbeat ‘Amerika’ bears a striking resemblance to the more dystopian ‘Where Is My Mind?’ in its almost synonymous rhythm, the opening vocables, and the facility with which it could be superimposed over the final scene of Fight Club. With lyrics like ‘What am I gonna do? I can’t survive on my Amerika?’, it wouldn’t be a stretch.

That somber commentary on the state of democracy is in stark contrast to the sentiments of Walt Whitman’s poem that was the inspiration for the song: a salute to the beauty of the democratic process in America. Although if you’re not feeling up to deliberating egalitarianism and just want something to bob along to, you’ll still enjoy it.

Similarly structured, the simplicity of the rest of the album’s arrangements lend themselves to layer upon layer of tracks and trinkets. Their simple chord progressions create spaces to the listener to engage more with the rhythm and the lyrics. Layers of vocals bring depth to the sound in the midst of distorted synth riffs, driving bass lines, and vocoders, giving them an anthemic vibe.

Lyrically, it covers its bases in the search for freedom, meaning, acceptance, and their next romance (or something), all while actively feeling a little discontent. The tune ‘Territory’ brings these sentiments to angsty reality with the lyric ‘you could just be anybody but yourself’. Coincidentally, Wintersleep had trouble themselves during the writing of this song to the extent that they sought out help from legendary Canadian bassist Geddy Lee.

Still, full marks for referencing Walt Whitman, recruiting Geddy Lee, and producing a step-out single.

For more info check out www.wintersleep.com

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