From a scream to a sigh? Maybe not quite, but after Givemanakick called a halt to their campaign of face-melting sonic terrorism last year, Steve Ryan has refocused his attention on sometime-side project Windings, whose musical palette is a bit more subdued. Formerly a strictly solo affair (his self-titled and well-received debut was released in 2005), the line-up has gradually grown into a five-piece, with added songwriting input from the new members. Preceded by the impressive Brain Fluid EP (the title track of which is included here), It’s Never Night is the second Windings full-length.
Opening track ‘Lil’ Hands’ emphasises the different terrain Ryan is mapping out here: mellow, understated and wistful, its lyrics reflect on the passage of time while its chiming guitars create a warm, lulling atmosphere. Elsewhere, ‘Apologia’ is a hushed, wracked confessional that sporadically gives way to bursts of guitar squall, while ‘I Can’t Breathe’ tells a tale of gentle infatuation over gently-plucked acoustics.
It’s not all in that kind of vein, however. The aforementioned ‘Brain Fluid’ is a chugging, alt-country-flavoured workout that calls Teenage Fanclub to mind. The terrific ‘Poor in the Mouth’ steps the pace up even further, a furious riffer that could easily pass audition for a Giveamanakick record. The centrepiece of the record is ‘These Horses Also Ran’: initially a mid-tempo affair with soothing, quietly absorbing harmonies; over the course of its seven-minute duration it grows and builds to an expert crescendo.
Windings save their best track of all for last, however: bringing things full circle in its similarity to the record’s opening track, ‘Old Like J’ is another gentle reflection on aging, its yearning, folky vibe as enchanting as its lyrics are charming (“All I want is to grow old like J/From a teenage riot to a silvery grave”). It’s the perfect closer to a record that proves Ryan is just as impressive a songwriter when he turns the volume down.