|Winger IV||Frontiers Records|
This is an interesting one. Not too many expected to even hear a new Winger album in 2006, so the fact I'm sitting here reviewing this is a feat in itself. Winger left the scene on the back of a killer album – Pull. It is an album that has become a cult classic – I think a majority of the band's fans claim the album to be their best ever – which I for one agree.|
Sadly though, grunge had already hit and the band's new found intensity and maturity on that record was only heard by a fraction of what the potential audience should and could have been.
So with unfinished business at hand, the band has reformed the Pull line-up, with the edition of an extra musician in Cenk Eroglu – who contributes keyboard, guitar and FX parts to the new album.
The new album is something a little different again. The downside of Internet leaks means that many have already heard this album and just as many have already posted their opinions of it. And those opinions sure are varied. It seems there are some fans that are struggling with this CD and I do understand those comments, but I have a few of my own.
IV picks up more or less where Pull left off – adopting the same intensity and moody mature delivery style, but also ventures into some new territory that may give some fans pause before accepting.
This is far from an instant album and even once you get to know it inside and out, it remains a mood album. It is not something I am going to or can play at any given time, but rather when the mood fits. Pull was a little like this too, but perhaps more mysterious.
IV is both modern contemporary and classic rock – there are songs that touch on both elements and at times it does so during the same song.
There are some openly commercial moments and some truly dark and contemporary passages which will require some listening to.
At first listen to the record I thought it was super intense and in some parts it is, but with time it sows some quite mellow and commercial moments. I find that the album doesn't feature as many individual highlights as Pull did and is not quite as ground breaking with the songwriting. I also find that this album makes for a better listen when played start to finish without interruption.
Track By Track:
The opening track Right Up Ahead is a prime example of the band at its most intense, complete with Pull style acoustic intro, soon engulfed by a heavy guitar riff. The song takes a few listens to get into with the chorus making itself better known with each listen.
Blue Suede Shoes is an interesting choice to follow the heavy opening track. While equally intense and moody, strip this track and you more or less get a rock ballad with modern teeth. The added vocals and musical effects simply add to the mystique of the track.
Four Leaf Clover is one of my favourite tracks. A simple guitar riff and a flowing melody and catchy chorus make for a very accessible and commercial rock track.
M16 reverts back to the heavy intensity of the opening track. I like the heaviness, but can't say the chorus does a lot for me.
Your Great Escape is an uptempo rocker with a less intense feel and even a breezy feel to it. It is the most commercial rocker on the album and sounds somewhat like a throw back to the band's early years.
Disappear is another super intense moody rocker, with a modern vibe and a chorus that doesn't penetrate as well as some others.
On A Day Like Today is another of the extremely commercial tracks on the album. This is a breezy acoustic driven pop ballad with the intensity of Kip Winger's solo records and the commercial likeability of Winger's early work.
Livin' Just To Die has modern elements, but the heart of this song is a straight forward rocker with a twist.
Short Flight To Mexico has a heavy down-tuned guitar riff driving it, but the chorus is far more upbeat and commercial hook.
Generica is a track I can see some fans disliking, but I like its programmed robotic feel. It interests me and keeps my attention in a hypnotic kind of way. Can't Take It Back closes the album in typically dramatic and moody fashion. This mid-tempo rock track sums up Winger 2006 – a song that needs time to grow on you and isn't openly catchy, but provides enough to draw the listener back in for more.
Perhaps a couple of extra tracks in the vein of Who's The One or Blind Revolution Mad might have given it a more instant attractiveness. I like this record and know others will also, but I also expect the very nature of the album and its style to bring extensive debate among fans.
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