The one thing I could always say about Wintersleep was that they got better with each new album. It appears that with their 4th album, New Inheritors, they may have finally gone backwards. After 2007's Welcome To The Night Sky, it almost seemed like it would be impossible for them to top that effort. It took a little time to digest that dense and intelligent album, but now I feel it stands near the crest of my all time favorite albums. After listening to New Inheritors many times hoping for the same feeling to overcome me, I still sit here wanting.
My biggest problem with New Inheritors is, it didn't have to be this way. The opener “Experience The Jewel” is absolutely stunning. Singer Paul Murphy's voice has never sounded more unique, like this could ONLY be Wintersleep. I thought this album was going to soar based on this track alone. The two tracks they released online, the title track and “Black Camera” were both very catchy and extremely different, so I was expecting a diverse effort. After Welcome to the Night Sky, I assumed the band was going to fully embrace their post-rock style musings that perfectly intertwine with the gorgeous Canadian folk that comes so naturally to them. So here I am expecting diversity and experimentalism, and honestly this album just feels like an identity crisis.
Just to clarify, there isn't a bad track on the album, just about every song has redeeming qualities and a certain catchiness. However, there just isn't more than a handful of great songs, if any that will go into the Wintersleep diehard's vernacular. The album doesn't feel very cohesive and as of right now ranks as my least favorite album by the band.
With all that said, I am still not giving up on the album, and I still hold out hope that this is a “grower.” If I didn't hold Wintersleep in such high esteem, this would probably pass as a pretty great album, but I do hold them to a higher standard. It actually pains me to type such negative words about the band I currently consider my favorite band in the world. They will continue to be that band until someone else dethrones them and next time I hope they grab that experimental folk gene that resides so deep in them and top everything they've ever done.
-- adam roncaglione