For some reason, I feel a certain kinship with Minneapolis band Dwindle. I've been following them from the get-go, and always feel a little twinge when I hear about a new Dwindle release. Somehow it's comforting that despite little to no recognition, a band can keep trucking along, releasing excellent, quality records to a small but devoted fanbase.
Dwindle have been a band for almost ten years, and although they're hardly a household name, if there's any justice their perseverance will pay off sooner or later, and their brand of deliciously melodic, downcast indie pop will receive the accolades it deserves. The Expectance/Acceptance EP comes three years after the band's last full-length, the slightly disappointing Days Away (disappointing, that is, only to those who've heard their amazing second record, Recently Okay). While Days Away was hardly bad, and showcased the band's tremendous instrumental talents very well, it was a rather monochromatic, gray record that lacked the standout hooks that made Recently Okay so unforgettable. Thankfully, with the four new songs on Expectance/Acceptance, Dwindle seem to be returning to the slightly poppier sound that made Recently Okay such a resounding success. In fact, "Resigned", Expectance/Acceptance's opener, might be the most instantly catchy thing the band's ever done. Singer/guitarist Brooce repeats the phrase "After awhile you decide to resign / You talked about it, talked about it, don't know what you'll find" over an addictive guitar figure and typically snappy drumming, which then progresses into a heavy, gorgeously melodic chorus.
From there, it's on to "End of an Error", another snappy number featuring cleanly strummed guitars and more astounding drumming. Brooce ends this tune with a rather blunt self-assessment, which could be said to apply to the whole of indie rock in general: "We don't have anything to say / Get over it / Ideals fade". It's as if he's accepting the fact that there's nothing much that anyone can do to make something "truly orginal" anymore -- but that's OK, it's still a great lot of fun.
The four new songs on Expectance/Acceptance are as good an introduction to Dwindle's sound as could be imagined. Thoughtful, catchy, brooding, and extremely accomplished, these songs showcase an unknown band making music for the sake of making music, and doing an extraordinary job at it.
You might have noticed that throughout this review, I keep referring to "the four new songs" on Expectance/Acceptance. This is because the last two songs on the disc are two different versions of a song called "Normative Forecasting", which originally appeared as the leadoff track to Recently Okay. The first version, at two and a half minutes, is less than half the length of the original song. A new bassline has been added, which sounds oddly reminiscent of something off the first Death Cab for Cutie Record played backwards. This re-think of "Normative Forecasting" is interesting, and a nice change of pace, although by excising the original song's middle section, it emerges as a less powerful entity.
Now, I can understand one re-do of an older song, especially when the two versions are as different as they are in this case. But two?? The EP ends with "Normative Version", a remix of the song that does little but add annoying effects to the instruments and vocals, submerging the wholeb thing in a foggy, reverbed-out haze. Dwindle's decision to tack two new versions of an old song onto the end of this EP is peculiar, to say the least, especially when once of them is utterly useless. I'm at a loss as to what the band was trying to accomplish by doing this, except, perhaps, confusing the hell out of their diehard fans.
Thankfully, while the two versions of "Normative Forecasting" that close out the record are total head-scratchers, they do nothing to denigrate the quality of the rest of the EP, which is as essential for fans of the band, and an excellent diving-in point for the Dwindle newcomer.