Windsor for the Derby – We Fight til Death

Windsor for the Derby
We Fight til Death

I wanted to start this review with a brief discussion of the use of repetition in music. Repetition may not sound like a good thing; after all, consider how many tired rock bands repeat the same three chords ad nauseum, the same chorus over and over, the same hook. But if done properly, repetition of certain melodic synth and guitar lines can create lush, ethereal soundscapes. Bands have been doing it for years, using repetitive parts of songs to flesh out electronic, ambient, and atmospheric music that takes you to another place. And it’s in that repetition that the song envelopes you, that it wraps around you, becomes familiar and fulfilling.

Windsor for the Derby has perfected the use of repetition in pop music. Over the course of 10 songs, this longstanding band wraps warm melodies, synths and beats and guitar and studio effects and just the right amounts of rock to create songs that are beautiful yet upbeat, ethereal yet poppy. It’s done through careful use of repetition: not the repetition of a single thing but layers of synths and beats and such, and changing often enough that it doesn’t become tiring but rather exciting.

The opening “The Melody of Fallen Tree” is a fine choice for opener, as it starts slow but picks up, wrapping sweet vocals around a gorgeously warm melodic synth and beat. The song has hints of a folky flavor as well. The throbbing pulse of beats and synths resemble a heartbeat as the song flows into “The Cutter” and then “Nightingale,” which, with its body-swaying rhythm and slick guitar line, is perhaps the perfect blend of groove and substance.

My favorite song here is “Logic and Surprise,” which showed up on an Acuarela Discos compilation last year and completely blew me away. A slightly different version appears here, yet the song is still so beautiful. Slow and subtle, with an electronic vibe floating beneath this slick and enveloping beat and soft lyrics, this track is well worth the price of admission itself. But there’s not a bad track here. The band rocks more on “Black Coats,” gets moody with low vocals but upbeat, almost danceable rhythms on “For People Unknown,” and more experimental and mellow on the closing “Flight.”

Although Windsor for the Derby’s core duo of Dan Matz and Jason Mcneely has been together for 10 years now, this fifth full-length is the first I’ve heard from the band. I’ve heard it described as lovely and lush pop and upbeat rock, and these songs mix bits of all of that. With absolutely perfect production, the end result is one that’s embracing, textured, warm, and still fun. It’s an absolutely beautiful album with a unique feel that is all this band’s own. This is one to own and savor.