The Windupdeads - The Windupdeads
Record Label: One Eleven Records
Release Date: October 7, 2008
The Swedish band The Windupdeads are a new rock quartet that formed from the ashes of the marginally successful band Fiord. The band's core, including Rickard Olsen (lead vocals, guitar), Jonas Westholm (bass) and Marcus Von Boisman (drums), added Petter Ingman as guitarist in 2007 and set out about to construct music shaped by their influences, including but not limited to Bloc Party, Bjork and Snow Patrol. Not wasting any time, the band released the song "Reverse of Shade" to the hit TV show "Gossip Girl," and later had their song "The End" featured on the August Paste sampler CD.
The band's biggest asset is vocalist Rickard Olsen, who has a hearty croon that's wide-ranging and full-throated and seems adept at tackling almost anything. He's at his best on the band's syrupy ballads, including the symphonic "On Your Way Out," the somber "The Bottom of Hell," and the haunting "Wide Open Windows." When the band ups the sonic ante, the sound is most akin to British radio-rock (Keane, Coldplay, Vega4) and standout numbers include aforementioned should-be-single "The End," the persuasive "No Actions, No Regrets," and the catchy-as-all-heck "You Can Sleep When You're Dead."
As the name suggests, there's no shortage of dark concepts tossed up here, most notably of which is, you guessed it, death. The band draws their name from the last lyric of "On Your Way Out," in which Olsen laments to an ex-lover, "You'll wind up dead." It's a cheeky and morbid sentiment, one that's repeated again in "No Dial (Murderer)," in which Olsen pleads to be awoken from a slumber, a concept which is conveyed in a a totally different manner on the caustic kiss-off "You Can Sleep When You're Dead." The song is so undeniably catchy, but it feels wrong to walk around singing such a harmful, bitter refrain.
The Swedish quartet attempts something a little quieter on the harmonica-fueled "I'll Pay You Back Someday," which tries to sound earnest and intimate and falters somewhat. For all his sincere inflections and soulful wails, Olsen overpowers the song's starkness and ruins what could have been a very sparse acoustic ballad. Sometimes singing gently can work wonders. It's also a strange place for an off-kilter song to be placed. One would think it would serve as the album's final track, kind of an off-handed conclusion as most bands are known for doing.
Instead though the band opens the disc with the pretentious "Intro" and closes with the equally stuffy "Outro." These are gorgeous snippets of sound, in which Olsen displays his inherent vocal skill, but they're also a tad unnecessary. While it's perfectly acceptable to allow filler to open and close an album, it's a little strange to include 25 seconds of band tuning and ambient noise and list it as a track (in this case, the tenth song, "Band Tuning"). While it may seem trivial to blast the band for such an intricacy, the fact of the matter is that a 15-song CD comes across as long-winded and tiring, regardless of how ephemeral these three songs might be. To put it succinctly, they're completely unnecessary.
Aside from those gripes and the fact that the album's strongest songs are towards the end, there's little else wrong with this debut. While a few songs come across as cookie-cutter, most notably album opener, "Options," and seventh track, "Sunblock," there's not much else wrong here. Backed by triumphant, swelling choruses and a bevy of dramatic moods, there's little reason to think this band won't make a splash in the next year or so. "Gossip Girl" and Paste were just the start, Wembley Stadium and Red Rocks aren't that far away.
Either this band had a horrible mixer or an awful bassist. They've got the bass turned up considerably high, so you can't deny the bass in any track. All he plays is 8 eight notes per measure, every single measure, following the chord progression, and it becomes very, very noticeable after about 2 tracks.
Maybe it's too nitpicky, but it always manages to squeeze into the forefront of my mind when I'm listening to them.