The Wingard Manor
Words To That Effect
David Wingard's had something of a breakthrough year -- the Long Beach-based musician's first album If You Could See Yourselves in combination with local shows and radio play has meant his electronic-with-a-rock-background approach is starting to gain a little more traction and attention. His newest release is another step on the ladder, and if a couple of moments don't quite click as they should, Words to That Effect shows he's starting to find his own clear identity all the more. If it's a little out of sync with the moment on the one hand, that's precisely why it has a more distinct stamp on the other.
"Experience Is Your Only Teacher" begins the album on a spare, understated note, but by the time "Percentage Points" is up and running everything's a brisk romp musically speaking, a shuddering energy that steers away from the often too-precious-by-half feeling of so much synth revival of this millennium in favor of something a little moodier and darker. (When the guitar riffs suddenly pile up on "I Heard the Ministry," that effect ramps into overdrive.) Wingard's singing steers clear of blasting out over the arrangements; he often seems like he's a suggestive presence in the background, intense at times but riding the songs with a restrained ease. Even what seems like a slightly more raspy AOR delivery on "The Piano Isn't Sad. You Are." gets a counterpoint in the buzzing layers behind the verses and the bright ringing tones on the chorus, a little strange mysteriousness used to good effect.
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There's a secret weapon at play as well thanks to the participation of Michele Rene on some tracks, in the similar way that Sarah Moor took the lead on the earlier album at points. Rene's strong, clear singing on "Reckoning" perfectly fits the energetic 80s-that-never-was rise of the track, down to the undercurrent of melancholy, while "Some of My Best Friends Are Drummers" has a sweet little hook and, appropriately enough, some percussion breakdowns interspersed with her easygoing verses. Her additional appearances throughout further leaven the whole, showing once again that Wingard has a little something that continues to build.
Words To That Effect can be purchased via CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon