The Winter Passing – ‘New Ways Of Living’

By Andy Joice

Irish quintet The Winter Passing might be relatively unknown outside of their native island and, frankly, it’s a damn shame. They’re a band that have flown under the radar and deserve more plaudits than they’ve received. As the scene expands thanks to the likes of Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital, and Pillow Queens, The Winter Passing should be included within these ranks, pushing their heartfelt, alternative emo sound. With the release of latest album ‘New Ways Of Living’ on Big Scary Monsters, they’re out to prove they can hang with the big names of the genre.

Opener ‘Ghost Thing’ is a clear indicator of their intent, with dual vocals from the Flynn siblings meandering effortlessly above an intricate melody, Rob’s gravellier tones being softened by Kate’s mellower, rangier voice. To refer to the sound as ‘alternative bordering on emo’ would be too easy – in reality, there’s far more going on, from the fluid drumming to the background chatter and bird noises during some of the quieter moments. The hook line of “everything I’ve ever lost will all be left inside the glass / you can’t forget the past” offers but the merest of glimpses into the emotional and heartfelt lyrics that’ll flow so effortlessly through the entire album.

Single ‘Resist’ opens with a delicate melody before Kate’s vocals hit. At a higher pitch, they stand out perfectly, with her delivery often being the most notable part of the tracks. However, it’s the harmonies with her brother that really work. Working as a psudo-echo, the differences in their range allows for an implied optimistic/pessimistic take, dependent on your mood during listening, that works incredibly well. Musically, it’s robust enough to allow some flexibility, never getting heavy enough to drown out the sensitive subject matter but instead cushioning it in a big, cosy hug.

‘Melt’ and ‘New York’ feature lyrics that bounce between self-depreciating, openly raw, and poetically descriptive, subjects that the likes of Spanish Love Songs and Hot Water Music are so well known for. It’s this dexterity, coupled with their ability to compose cohesive instrumentation, that results in a near Midwest sound. But don’t let that fool you – ‘Greetings From Tipperary’ and ‘Something To Come Home To’ have a far more nuanced, Cranberries feel. There’s a slight mishit with ‘Crybaby’, which feels slightly too saccharin and poppy; however, although it’s a little jarring initially, it turns into a grower that sits slightly easier the more it’s listened to.

The final two tracks are led almost exclusively by Kate, with ‘I Want You’ resulting in an almost whispered love song. It’s the band at their most fragile, most tender. Gentle strings and choral voices sit behind the delicate melodies, with the rhythm section only entering for the final 40 seconds. As a whole, it’s a changeof pace that proves sometimes the loudest impacts come from the quietest moments.

Closing off the record is ‘Mind Yourself’, potentially the most impressive track on the entire album. Featuring soaring highs from Kate and grounded bite from Rob, it pushes all five members to their limit, with harmonising melodies and subtle yet effective drumlines. Similar to ‘I Want You’, there’s a vulnerability that pulses throughout the track, building both sonically and thematically to a conclusion of noisy acceptance. Sitting at just under seven minutes long, it’s one of the strongest ballads we’ve heard in a long time, chock full of emotion, messages and singalong moments, resulting in an incredibly memorable ending.

‘New Ways Of Living’ is a big step for The Winter Passing. Although they’ve always sounded polished, there’s a real push in terms of lyrical poetry, cleverly delivered instrumentation, and the pairing of the Flynn’s vocals. Kate Flynn is the shining star, able to deliver varying emotions from beat to beat through her genuinely impressive voice, however every song works perfectly due to the contribution of all members. If you’re into Midwest Emo but prefer a more delicate and refined sound, The Winter Passing are exactly what you need.

ANDY JOICE

Three more album reviews for you

Jet Fuel Chemistry - 'Sign Of The Times'

Misery Signals - 'Ultraviolet'

In Hearts Wake - 'Kaliyuga'