I have been trumpeting The Winter Sounds ever since I came across the band earlier this year. Porcelain Empire could be considered the band’s official debut. The band did release the great Land Of No Output last year but they have re-recorded eight of those songs in addition to five new ones to make up Porcelain Empire. When a band does something of that nature there are bound to be worries and questions of cohesion that arise. Fortunately, that does not happen at all on Porcelain Empire. The new songs mesh quite well with the band’s earlier material. It helps that the band just refuses to write filler material.
The sound of The Winter Sounds is hard one to pin down. I described the band’s sound before as something that “lies somewhere between indie rock, pop and emo with a little of that southern charm thrown in for good measure.” Although lead singer Patrick Keenan probably described it best in the band’s SAL interview simply as “new wave” indie rock. The band that The Winter Sounds often reminds me of is The Anniversary circa their debut, 2000′s Designing A Nervous Breakdown. That band played emotional pop songs that delved quite heavily into new wave territory while supplying some of the most memorable choruses I can remember. Which is exactly what The Winter Sounds are doing on Porcelain Empire. As good as that record was, Porcelain Empire hangs with it quite admirably at every twist and turn.
Fans of Land Of No Output might be a little off put by the re-recording of eight of those songs for Porcelain Empire. It is difficult to get to know songs again after bonding with them a certain way beforehand. However, The Winter Sounds make the transition a rather easy one. The production of Porcelain Empire is noticeably clearer and cleaner. The band adds instrumental flourishes and more depth than the previous recordings offered while never detracting from the original mood and feel of the songs. It is a slim tightrope to walk but the band manges it with a remarkable precision and poise.
I am fairly sure I have listened to The Winter Sounds more than any other band in 2007. That is about the highest praise I can give. What is so tremendous about the band is that I can see them attracting such a wide array of listeners. From indie popsters to pop punkers…The Winter Sounds diverse brand of rock offers a great deal to sink your teeth into. Most of all, the band excels in creating memorable songs with melodies so thick you will think you died and went to heaven. In fact, I remember the first time I listened to The Winter Sounds. Beneath all the melodies, there was one line that immediately caught my attention. From the moment I heard it the band had me hook, line and sinker. In “Earthworm Song” Keenan sings, Meet me in a melody…in the haunted south where all good songs remain. Now tell me how could a Southern boy like myself not love a band like The Winter Sounds?