album reviews

Windsor for the Derby
Giving Up the Ghost
Secretly Canadian (2005)

Windsor for the Derby has always embraced a nomadic spirit. The group's two core members, Dan Matz and Jason McNeely, have transplanted themselves physically (from Tampa, Fla., to Austin, Texas) as often as they have jumped labels (Trance Syndicate, Young God, Emperor Jones). But now that the band has settled on a hometown (Philadelphia) and a label (Secretly Canadian), it has also expanded to include keyboardist/bassist Anna Neighbor and drummer Gianmarco Cilli on Giving Up the Ghost.

Ghost gets off to a rocky start, despite the newfound stability. The Animal Collective-esque rhythmic freakout "Dirge for a Pack of Lies" is followed incongruously by the breezy, keyboard-driven "Empathy for People Unknown." Its breathy vocals spit such unfortunate phrases as "I wanna be someone that you can trust" in an overly melodramatic staccato.

But backing Windsor's less-than-stellar lyrics are more-than-compelling arrangements. Ghost recalls the best moments of 1999's outstanding Difference and Repetition with its repetitive, slowly growing melodies. The nearly seven-minute "Giving Up" expands steadily from a whisper to an almost pop melody. "The Light Is On" morphs over its duration from a trance-inducing tapestry of interwoven chords into a passionate chant of "turn from the sun." The quartet's acoustic melancholy comes off like a watercolor version of Red House Painters. That blurriness makes the best parts of Ghost feel more like a collection of dreams, from which Windsor will hopefully never awaken.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: the Baltimore CityPaper: 7 September 2005
.: Giving Up the Ghost on