The fourth release from Austin/NYC's Windsor for the Derby finds this reclusive band creating organic tunes through a mixture of spatial manipulation and gentle vocal phrasings. However, unlike previous releases, where the focus was almost exclusively on mellow beats and methodical changes, Windsor has consciously channeled its reserved energy into writing poignant lyrics that fill out the skeletal framework constructed by the band's customarily sparse instrumentation.
For long-time Windsor followers, the eight-minute opening number "The Same" is a far cry from familiar territory. Warm, wispy vocals take center stage, accompanied by minimalist guitar chords, creating an unexpectedly cozy tune. The band even goes so far as to add a humble vocal melody that blends well with Farfisa organ and perfectly plucked notes. After a few listens, it's quite apparent that the mindframe that created the cold, almost robotic-like creations of the group's past work has been radically jostled, sending its owners into previously unexplored musical territory.
"Emotional Rescue" is not a Stones cover tune, but it could be the most poppy and upbeat Windsor track to date, with moderately paced guitars and a light, jazz-flavored drum beat. For those seeking familiar territory, "Donkey Ride"'s lazy, reverb-soaked guitar will bring to mind the band's earlier, weightier and more hypnotic material, leaving you feeling dazed and lethargic.
Emotional Rescue's high point is the winding "Fall of '68". Incorporating frail vocals and a brilliantly simplistic guitar melody, "Fall" wraps itself around you without ever raising its volume or changing its tempo. In turn, "Mythologies" could be considered the archetypal Windsor tune of the bunch, as its well defined structure and repetitive notes take their inspiration from the band's back catalog.
If you considered past Windsor for the Derby releases too low-key or monotonous for your tastes (I certainly did), the Emotional Rescue LP asserts the fact that the band not only has exceptional songwriting talent, but has finally concocted a potent mixture of poppy melodies to complement their core of tranquil notes and minimalist orchestrations. Windsor for the Derby has reached a critical career juncture; they've recognized that a more vocal-intensive approach adds new depth to their structured compositions, creating a smoothly flowing stream of grand hymns and graceful guitar work. There's enough variation here to entice those previously uninterested in the band, while a fundamental familiarity will most certainly satisfy the group's existing fan base.