Review: The Winchester Club – Negative Liberty

The Winchester Club have arrived very late indeed. Negative Liberty pays a visit to the landscape roamed by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky and Mono a good decade before – this is very much a “post rock” record, seemingly built around a checklist of the genre’s most prominent clichés.

It’s all here: cymbal-wash suspense, patient build-ups, reverberant tremolo leads, cinematic melancholy, E-bow leads, indulgent repetition. A single idea is often used as a basis – say, a guitar line or a glockenspiel motif – left to loop while the other instruments make delicate entrances around it, abiding by the more safe and obvious minor-key movements. The “explosive” climaxes rarely feel worthy of the arduous climbs that precede them, tending to simply embellish the existing chord pattern with a crunchy distortion and a few dashes of snare fill and cymbal wash.

But there’s something endearingly oblivious to the way in which the band slot so snugly into the post-rock template, as though they’ve all awoken from a lengthy coma and are presenting the music of The Winchester Club as a new-fangled discovery of their own. Regardless of the numbingly simple composition, there’s an excitable energy behind the performance – an honest belief and enthusiasm for their ideas that, while I’m unable share it with them, prevents Negative Liberty from being as lifeless and uninteresting as it could have been.