"Am I Gonna Be Alright?"
One year ago, I lay in bed, strung out on Netflix, carrying a heavy weight within my chest. My 9 year relationship was over. “It hurts so hard, a memory [I] can't forget”. “Under the pressure, [am I] gonna be alright…?” At the time I had fallen into a great darkness that had consumed my positive outlook. I shut everyone out. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to move. I felt as if the ground beneath my feet was slowly crumbling to the sea. I was paralyzed in the moment before breaking the surface tension, unknowing of the dangers awaiting me. Usually I’m pretty quick to find a solution; a logical out; a positive route, but this time I was defeated. Love can leave you bleeding.
“Welcome to the edge of decay
Have you been here before?
With the lines in your face
All alone and hollow”
As I sit here and reflect, I’m pleased to say I can address my turmoil with clarity. One reason this album resonated to a broad audience is because we’ve all been “on the edge of decay”. Maybe you're just moments from your foundations cracking and you’re left holding tarot cards close to your chest, praying for those dark predictions to prove false. It seems too often we suffer and must cope with loss and grief. Many nights, after I couldn’t strum my grief away anymore I’d retreated into “The Great Detachment”. My life in pieces gravitated towards the shared emotional tragedies and refreshing honesty revealed in human condition. Mystified by the unexplained connection between music and your soul, your feet lift off the ground when you plug your earbuds into your brain.
I remember Jay showing me “Amerika” on one car ride to a gig. I couldn’t get it out my head. The crisp hits of the snare, heavy backbeat layered among dispersed tremolo guitar lines is an aurally fixation only amplified when re-listening. I was even lucky enough to have a reserved a spot to see Wintersleep’s CBC run of “The Great Detachment” in Toronto. My bandmates encouraged me to see this exclusive performance. It was a once in a life time opportunity complete with an acoustic rendering of their hit “Amerika”. I cancelled, gaining control of my life for a few fleeting movements, the feeling of weightlessness washing over my brain. I sank back into my cloud of unwashed sheets and proceeded to waste made up time, detaching myself from my friends, family and self. Maybe I should have gone…Clearly I would have enjoyed myself, and considering how much Wintersleep’s sixth album provided comfort and stability, it may be my single musical regret of 2016. Retroactive decisions never seem to work out.
Beyond the Downie grade poetry, musically this record flows effortlessly between each track. Every song maintains a simple arrangement of complex musical phrases and progressions. Loel Campbell’s massive drums are reminiscent of Bonham, as compelling as The Hip’s Johnny Fay, yet as intricate and intentional as East coaster Phil Maloney of Hey Rosetta! The drums help carry the weight and excitement of the work. Each rhythmic idea originates naturally intersperse with captivating melodic gestures. Overall, Wintersleep creates a conceptual soundscape of the grief ridden mind, amongst the recesses of the subconscious, highlighting the melancholic sadness and hopes we all experience.
As this year passes over us we need moments of quiet reflection and mediation to grow. This album’s uniquely beautiful, haunting harmonies and unforgettable refrains are aurally therapeutic. We must not deny the power music has over us. Wintersleep embodies the perfect combination of pop music accessibility, indie-rock creativity and lyrical poetry that has the ability to transcend the human condition with honesty and realism. “The Great Detachment” cuts inside your head and occupies your mind. While you age and perspectives change, this album matures in flavour and fullness.
“All my friends are running away
At exceptional pace
In the grass of their lawns and lousy private party
Are you so sure
A lifting cure”
- We may never meet, but thank you for the music and support.