PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Windsor for the Derby: How We Lost

The eighth album from this veteran indie group is adequate and breezy, but doesn't leave too much of an impact.

Windsor for the Derby

How We Lost

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2008-05-20
UK Release Date: Available as import

How We Lost is the eighth album from veteran independent rock group Windsor for the Derby. The band's been around for around twelve years now, in various forms and in various locations scattered around the country. They're now based in Philadelphia, and have filled out the original duo's at times sparse sound with a few new members and recording help from a bunch of other musicians. In their Philadelphia studio, you can imagine these seasoned musicians obsessively layering their familiar sounds into new arrangements of limpid psychedelic-tinged rock.

What might cause you to take an interest in a group like this -- one that has remained firmly but unremarkably true to the musical ideas that it first lighted on all those years ago? Unfortunately, competent though it is, How We Lost seems to say, "not much." In 2006, Secretly Canadian reissued the group's first two albums, Calm Hades Float and Minnie Greunzfeldt from 1996 and 1997, respectively; these may have sparked some new interest for the group. At the very least, they provided an instructive historical perspective. In comparison, How We Lost is much more mellow and coherent record. This is obviously the result of a more mature band.

The best songs on How We Lost create mellifluous springtime atmospheres out of which snatched melodies emerge. You feel like digging around in these songs to find the pop heart, but it resists easy discovery. Instead, on a static and lovely song like "Good Things", the structures are intended to confound. The songs often stretch for four or five minutes, but it's because there are long introductions and short codas; it's a compositional technique Sonic Youth has also used successfully. "Maladies" is a more upbeat take on the general form established here, and it's more impactful for the raised energy. And the final song on the album, "Spirit Fade", is a sweet send-off. The mid-tempo song builds with stereo guitar lines into perhaps the closest the group has come to a triumphant chorus. Then it ends abruptly -- a neat promise of more music to come from this workmanlike band.

You occasionally feel that the coiled nature of these songs could be reflected in some lyrics of particular insight -- it'd match the studied intricacy of the guitar lines. Instead, we're given platitudes and clichés: "I feel alone in the City / I wanna be near you always", e.g., in "Good Things". Without this impact, and lacking the muscular power of an otherwise similar band like the Besnard Lakes, Windsor for the Derby just sort of float by without leaving too much of an impact. Sure, the rhythms are offbeat, the guitar lines blend into each other in rich harmonies; it's just that something -- passion, maybe? -- seems to be missing.

"Hold On" might be where Windsor for the Derby state most explicitly their goal for How We Lost. Over the big, echoing guitar lines the lyrics talk about finding "the secret place, the simple place". The group's interested in paradise; turns out it sounds something like the Jesus & Mary Chain. That's OK, because that song, and a few others on the album, provide something close to an adequate soundtrack.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.