There’s something cathartic about the angst driven D.I.Y punk of New Ways of Living. It could be the heart-on-sleeve lyricism, the Winter Passing’s youthful gang of friends-like interplay or the big alt-rock sheen of the album’s production, or all three. Whatever it is, there’s a definite creative joie de vivre that makes for a compelling listen to from start to finish, and results in a record teeming with life.
The Winter Passing’s sound has the same big, bold ambition of the group’s influences (think the slacker rock of Dinosaur Jr. meet the bedroom-pop inflections of Snail Mail) and with New Ways of Living more than live-up to these roots while adding their own prism to the output. The low-hanging slow feel of ‘The Street and the Strangers’ has a rawness to the songwriting that feels personal not just to the group but also to who they are individually, as they weave a dynamically punchy track that plays into their core sound to aplomb. Add to this the far-reaching production of the record itself, and the Winter Passing’s sophomore offering is a precise one.
But like any good alt-rock band, the Winter Passing are more than capable of adding the melodic guitar hooks, impactful drum beat and raucous vocals to proceedings. The vivid ‘Melt’, is pin-point. From the sudden burst of intro to the drop down verses to the yelled out “heys” that punctuate the song, the Winter Passing hit every beat needed to make an impact. This runs right through New Ways of Living, ‘Crybaby’ is slick punk track that packs a punch while the driving rock of ‘New York’ has a defined urgency to it, and the slow-burn of ‘Something to Come Home To’ has an anthemic quality to it that is allude to throughout the record.
However, its the Winter Passing’s vocal interplay that makes New Ways of Living. Set against to the band’s tight musical blending and the album’s strong production, songs like ‘Resist’ are brought to life via the addition and melding of vocal lines that make the verses and choruses contrast one another throughout, meaning the album’s foreground is always changing texture, intensity and emotion as each vocal carries with it’s own separate character and colour.
New Ways Of Living is a swing for the fences that the Winter Passing are confident in their sound enough to make, and in many ways its a home-run for the band. From the songwriting to the production, the album is meets the ambition that inspired it and adds something new to the mix via the group’s ability to write through the prism of their own experiences rather than trying to emulate that of the influences. A compelling listen.