The third LP from Seattle's Long Winters combines the lyrical intimacy and melodic complexity of the "Ultimatum" EP with the guitar pop rave-ups of the band's previous full-lengths. The two sides of songwriter John Roderick come together to create the most compelling Long Winters release to date. This is a big, very rock record, but underneath the guitars you'll find the bones of mellow folk, psych, and orchestral pop.
On their third long player, Seattle's Long Winters are as literate as ever, but there's added power to their pop. In other words: more Nada Surf, less Death Cab for Cutie. Now a quartet after previous incarnations as a trio and two-keyboard player quintet (drummer Nabil Ayers and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rothman are the new additions), John Roderick still sings as if he's sitting across from you. It starts with frequent use of the second person and ends with a tone as conversational and familiar as that an old friend. As he observes in "Honest," "Everything is different when he's singing right to you" (before warning, "But don't you love a singer whatever you do"). To quote Nick Lowe, Putting the Days to Bed
is "pure pop for now people," or maybe the Talking Heads come closer with "more songs about buildings and food." On The Worst You Can Do Is Harm
, Roderick sang about "Unsalted Butter" and "Scent of Lime," on When I Pretend to Fall
, it was "Cinnamon." Now the musical gourmand has moved on to cream ("Clouds") and wine ("Rich Wife"). (Roderick is starting to rival Cibo Matto in the epicurean songwriter sweepstakes.) On their most polished platter yet, the Long Winters are joined by several Northwest notables, including Kurt Bloch (the Fastbacks) and Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) on guitar, and one-time member Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger) on harmony vocals. --Kathleen C. Fennessy