Windsor For The Derby principals Dan Matz and Jason McNeely, who have called many locales throughout the U.S. home since the band's inception, in 2004 established residency in the same city (Philadelphia) for the first time in years. The resultant windfall of time together (along with some new collaborators) seems to have tightened the veteran post-rockers' focus for its sixth record. The sort-of title track, "Giving Up," holds court at the center of the 35-minute set as both an obvious focal point and ably executed example of the band's aesthetic. Ushered in with acoustic guitar and a thin vocal, the song piles up repetitions, builds a droning head of steam and finally cuts loose a drumbeat before delivering the record's biggest, and most depressing, chorus: "You say every secret word, and then you go it alone..."
Similarly strong are the quietly percolating rockers "Empathy for People Unknown" and "Praise," songs that give voice to widely divergent influences: the former suggests an affinity for Grandaddy, while the latter (along with its successor "Shadows") channels darker Joy Division urges than those that buoyed Interpol to prominence. There is some irony in following up a record called We Fight Til Death with one titled (and as vital as) Giving Up The Ghost. However, Windsor For The Derby doesn't sound as if it has succumbed to anything save for its singular atmospheric pop tendencies.
By Jay Breitling.
August 15, 2005