The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
WINGER BETTER DAYS COMIN REVIEW 2014

 

WINGER - BETTER DAYS COMIN'

FRONTIERS RECORDS

APRIL 22 2014

 

 

It’s been a while since Winger’s last outing which came late last decade in the form of the impressive ‘Karma’ in 2009. As a band Winger has always unfairly attracted a fair amount of criticism especially in the early days when MTV lumped them in with the Hair Metal crowd and everyone from Beavis and Butthead and Metallica seemed to have a pop at them. The reality was of course that Winger was never really that standard ‘Hair band’, and were made up of a group of gifted musicians that leaned far enough into Prog territory, especially later on, to make them one of the more interesting bands to come out of that era.

 

After the initial burst of activity the band split in 1994 after the release of what may have been their finest album in ‘Pull’. The split saw Kip Winger go solo and Reb Beech lend his talents to a number of bands from Dokken to Whitesnake (the latter of which he still plays for).

 

2014 sees the band back again and in fine form with ‘Better Days Comin’’ – an album of surprising depth and variety. Playing it relatively safe the album starts out with a couple of straightforward enough rockers in ‘Midnight Driver of a Love Machine’, a title that may raise a few eyebrows amongst the knockers, but a song that delivers well enough; and ‘Queen Babylon’ which is a great  rock song.

 

‘Rat Race’ the first single is if anything even better, taking the trademark groove and adding the excess. For those that have seen the video and expect an album of the same driving riff-based rockers then you will be surprised by the variety that follows.

 

The title track ‘Better Days Comin’’ sees the band work up a funkier vibe; while ‘Tin Soldier’ seems to be the turning point of the album and adds a distinct Progressive vibe building off a simple keyboard intro the see the guitar crash in and repeat the refrain before it melts into vocal, keys and drums. It’s a track that has both power and light and shade, closer to Dream Theater than anything from the 80’s. ‘Ever Wonder’ that follows it gets all contemplative and takes the tone down even lower into ballad territory, leaning back even further to get us almost horizontal. It’s a great song and one where the subtlety works a treat.

 

Changing up again ‘So Long China’ retains a softer edge but kicks with a huge hook; while ‘Storm in me’ ups the ante further, resting on some solid, meaty guitar.  The album closes out with the light psychedilia of the trance-like ‘Be Who You Are Now’ which has an almost India-period Beatles-like quality; and the final word ‘Out of this World’ which as a final note leaves you wondering how the album will be received by fans and new audiences alike.

 

‘Better Days Comin’’ is neither the Winger of MTV (those days thankfully are long gone), nor is it the finery of ‘Pull’, or even the follow up to the solid and punchy ‘Karma’. What it is seems to be a band flexing their muscles as musicians and throwing up a few ideas into the air. There’s a distinct infusion of Prog here, whether it be in the strange tempos of songs like ‘Be Who You Are’ or the uneasiness of the almost ballad ‘Ever Wonder’.  It’s not the most immediate album, and it’s one that is likely to appeal more to fans of Winger’s lighter side. It does sound remarkably fresh though and by and large charts new territory for the band, I can see it confusing some and intriguing others. Its complex, at times challenging without overdoing it…  and it gets better with each listen.   

 

 

by Mark Diggins

 

WINGER BETTER DAYS COMIN REVIEW 2014