For the uninitiated, an album with as cheerily blatant a title as Love Songs would tend to indicate a straightforward collection of tracks having to do with straightforward love. For those who know Winterpills, however, to assume this would not only be wrong, but a disservice to the emotional depth of songwriting they’ve demonstrated since their self-titled debut LP released way back in 2005. Love Songs is all about love, but it’s not the type of love that one would be quick to write back home to mother about.
Continuing their deep embrace of the tentative, the dreary, and every moment capable of provoking hiraeth in-between, Love Songs tightly embraces less-worn tropes regarding a nostalgic love for what was, and not what is. It highlights, in a strategically subdued, contemplative manner, the sheer profundity that comes with looking back on life, from its meatier moments to those that should have lasted much longer, and the complexities of each.
Thematically, this is within the same Winterpills scope that intent listeners fell for 11 years ago, and they make the most of what time they have to deliver a convincing message of melancholy from start to finish.
Sonically, the album is an overall larger production than a traditional Winterpills record. Drafting Justin Pizzoferrato as producer, as opposed to self-producing as they have with their previous efforts, has resulted in a work with more overall substance. Pizzoferrato contributes a low end to the band that helps bring their rock-leaning tendencies full-circle for a more complete sound than past efforts without missing a beat in terms of their reputation for evocative lyricism. Particularly strong tracks include the deceptively optimistic “A New England Deluge”, grungy folk-rocker “Wanderer White”, and dance-along lead single “Celia Johnson”.
The result is another upward ascension for the band, presenting itself as consistent for the sixth album in a row. While, in and of itself, this is a considerable feat, it helps that Winterpills came running right out of their metaphorical starting position with a strong foundation, upon which they’ve built a bundle of well-deserved recognition.
With a different spin on their lyrical themes in spite of an overall similar atmosphere, and with Pizzoferrato helping to create a fuller sonic space for their songs to inhabit, Love Songs not only builds on Winterpills’ previous efforts, but also stands out among the throngs of indie rock albums released this year.
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