Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky

TC 30/01/2009

Rating: 4/5

It grates me deeply that everything we create or pioneer in Great old Britain gets hijacked and perpetrated much better under another flag. Football, car manufacture, chicken tikka masala and now indie rock. Let's forget for the time being that R.E.M. were the real creators of indie and recall the heyday of The Smiths and The Stone Roses handing over the batten to Oasis and The Charlatans to carve out yet another distinctive notch in the world of popular music. I guess the moment that batten was passed onto Travis we should have seen the writing on the wall!

We ought to be pleased I guess that the US have embraced indie rock in such an enthusiastic manner, not least because it reduces the chances of there being a repeat of Velvet Revolver. But, with the new administration across the pond it's important we avoid any prejudices and accept that there are indeed other nations quite capable of perpetrating what we felt was ours. All that leads very untidily to Wintersleep, mainly because they're not from the USA, they're Canadian!

An unlikely looking bunch of Nova Scotians who join the rising wave of Canadian bands launching an indie offensive, ably fronted by Arcade Fire, The Dears and The Trews. So, prejudices cast to one side, this is bloody good stuff! Evidencing my own personal head being sandward, it's also their third album, so more fool me for not having heard of them before.

Their sound is quite kaleidoscopic, with tracks often veering into a more progressive arena and at the other extreme Americana (or country rock as it used to be branded). This variety of sound is far from being muddled and leads to a very enjoyable excursion indeed; there's great melody throughout and some truly virtuoso instrumental moments. There are hints of Soul Asylum, Pearl Jam, Coldplay and even Biffy Clyro, but over and above that they sound good simply as Wintersleep.

There are tracks like “Archaeologist” with a drive similar to 80s/90s crossover bands like Dinosaur Jr, through to campfire jaunts like “Weighty Ghost” and grunge-friendly takes like “Oblivion”. Top track for me is “Laser Beams”, a rising gem that builds, clambers and thrusts itself through to a stunning climax that even Radiohead might admire.

The concluding track has the catchy title of “Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks” and is a wonderful eight-minute journey that neatly assembles together everything about the band that is worthy of recognition and recognition they are indeed worthy of. Drop that batten now Keane, the Canadians are running the next leg!