Windsor for the Derby: Giving Up the Ghost

On their sixth album, the duo of Dan Matz and Jason McNeely inscribe a network of post-rock sensibilities. It’s the first time in the band’s 11-year career that its members have lived in the same city (Philadelphia), and the resultant recordings have a markedly more-organic, less-processed vibe than earlier releases.

The ten tracks mostly adhere to an attractive template of rippling instrumental textures, unforced percussion, and hazy vocals buried low in the mix. “Empathy for People Unknown” is a fine example of Windsor’s energetic, questing songcraft, its simple yet effective keyboard melody giving way to scything guitar work. Matz is not a gifted vocalist by any means, but his conversational, slightly strained delivery fits well with the tentative, exploratory feel of the song.

Both “Praise” and “Shadows” call up the ghost of Joy Division, the former with its juddering synth line and choppy percussion, the latter in its glacial sense of movement. Yet the production, here and elsewhere, has a scuffed, lo-fi quality that reinforces the sense of the provisional. Accumulating pace and urgency as it goes, “Giving Up” is electrified by slipping guitar, while the lovely, effortless “The Light Is On” skips along on a slinky bed of relaxed drumming and happy, undemonstrative riffing. Modest, unassuming, but quietly effective, Giving Up the Ghost more than makes up in elegant simplicity what it lacks in grand gestures.

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