I bought Wintersleep’s Welcome to the Night Sky back in 2007 after becoming a fast fan of the song “Weighty Ghost” when it was charting on the CBC R3-30 (back when I was listening to the R3-30 podcast that is, which I think I last did in March ‘08). The thing about buying an album after only listening to one song (and that same song repeatedly) you build up unrealistic expectations about the album it comes from. Invariably few other songs, if any, on the album will be similar to the one you’ve been listening to, and, at first anyway, few other songs will attract your attention as much. WttNS was just that, and “Weighty Ghost” was such a different song compared to the rest: uptempo, jovial even, compared to the three tracks that precede it - the brooding opener (with an immediate bass hook) “Hooked on Aluminium”[sic], the deep, driving “Archaeologist” and the dirge “Dead Letter”.
But the opening quartet becomes, after only a few listens, a pillar of diversity and strength in sound, and the remainder of the album has a difficult time living up to that. The fifth track, “Murderer”, is regressive, 90’s Eric’s Trip style instrumental that switches into a haunting lyrical drone, followed by “Search Party” which brings the pace way down but delivers intensity in spades. “Astronaut” brings the pace back up, in a brief, hookless, but no less engaging tune, followed by “Oblivion” which, honestly, reminds me of a momentum-filled Tragically Hip tune. “Laser Beam” is a fluid build-up and release, which, funny enough, pales in comparison to the epic, 8-minute “Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks”, which is a wafting shoegazer tune that segues into a pulsating chant, and is probably my favourite song on the album.
As I’ve listened to it more and more over the past year and a half, I’ve become quite a fan of WttNS, with each listen I gain new appreciation for most of the songs on it, which, in my collection, is kind of rare. Even as Wintersleep become the new indie CanCon darling embraced by Canadian mainstream radio, I at least escaped the bandwagoneering, although the band has released two prior albums which have gone virtually unnoticed (although I think I heard a few tracks off their second release and wasn’t immediately charmed, but given my response to this one, perhaps I should give it another shot).