August 11, 2002

Windsor for the Derby "The Emotional Rescue LP"

When you drive across Texas, after about nine hours, you start to get a bit blurry in mind. You get a little bit hazy, the road seems to go on and on and on, and you're hypnotized by the road. For years now, Texas artists have attempted to tap in to the tedium, the boredom, and the charm of the nothingness that exists in and around Texas. From the brooding, loudness of Explosions in the Sky, to the hazy, slightly stoned tones of American Analog Set, and from scenes as diverse as Austin, Denton, and Houston, Texas has had a profound affect on musicians here.

Windsor for the Derby is no exception. Having created some beautifully sparse records over the past few years, there's a certain sense of expectation about them. The Emotional Rescue, however, finds the former Texas band moving a bit from their droning, hazy past. Instead of long, dark, instrumental epics, Windsor for the Derby have turned in an album that's more folk-rock than drone-rock. Like contemporaries American Analog Set, they've simply looked into a more song-based, folkier sound that hints at--instead of rehashes--their previous glories. I think I know what they're trying to do: they're trying to mix cold technology with warm songs, in order to create an electronic-based folk that's both coldy human and warmly electronic.

I'm not really sure, though, if the recipe for their new style is fully cooked. While the music is pretty, it's not quite as spectacular as previous efforts. At times, such as "Emotional Rescue" and "Awkwardness," Windsor for the Derby sound A LOT like New Order. Other times, such as on "Another Rescue," "Mythologies" and the re-recorded "Now I Know the Sea," the songs seem to meander just a little bit. There are some moments on The Emotional Rescue LP, such as opener "The Same" and closer "Donkey Ride," that hint at their former glories, but there's nothing that really sustains a pulse over the album. Though this album stumbles, it hints at ideas that, if developed more, might lead to later greatness. The Emotional Rescue LP is a snapshot of a great band's awkward age--beautiful in the beginning, not so pretty during their transition, and
even more so after maturation.

--Joseph Kyle

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