Three years on from debut album, Gradient, comes the eagerly anticipated second release from The Winter Tradition, the ten track strong ‘Lumi’.
‘All Back Home’ opens the record with its echoing vocal harmonies, stylish guitars and anthemic choruses combining beautifully to present a strikingly positive and wonderfully epic introduction; a track impressive to the point you would be forgiven (and entirely incorrect) to believe that the rest of the album could not possibly maintain such a high level.
The cocktail of emotive sounds, heartfelt vocals and slick effects of ‘Departures’ put any such misguided beliefs to bed, in a track which boasts loud synth driven pop with a solid, indie spine.
Latest single ‘Call’ is an irresistible toe-tapper with its driving beat and fantastic guitar delay complimenting more impressive production; piano soon breaks in, allied with tinny vocals and a dirty beat, before a glorious crescendo.
‘Get It Wrong’ highlights the best attributes of a band at the top of their game, blending a wondrous collection of elements and producing them in a stunning package.
There’s a more guitar led direction with ‘Harder to Breathe’, a track which could be tentatively associated with a more pop-punk sound, but the band purvey it masterfully; a stunning guitar solo in the latter stages drives home a monstrous ending, which swaggers in confidence and glory.
Synth and vocals take the reins of ‘Fly South’, driving onwards through a track that feels sinister at times, soothing at others, but captivating throughout.
‘Come Alive’ steps up next with soaring chords and blinding chorus washing over like an unstoppable tidal wave; tearing into a rip-roaring conclusion that is just crying out to be sung along with.
The energetic ‘Florence’ then speeds through, a sense of forward movement, underpinning a track that is ultimately impossible to listen to without a nod of the head; it’s synth-laden, alternative indie, positively infectious pop rock.
And then there’s ‘Bunk Bed’ – out goes the synth, and various other instruments and effects, for a stripped back combination of vocals and acoustic guitars, which build slowly and assuredly towards a fulfilling finish; although this is a departure from the rest of the album, it only helps to emphasise the raw emotion behind the vocals and gives the resulting product its own strong personality, which differentiates it from just another album track.
Splendid song-writing, strings and piano, with polished effects, vocal harmonies and an underlying, haunting atmosphere take the listener through title track ‘Lumi’, growing through various levels of sound and emotion before bursting into an epic and triumphant segment, all building towards a finish, which sees instruments and sounds stripped off like clothing, the naked conclusion drawing a close to a stunning record.
The Winter Tradition is a band of both extraordinary ability and hypnotising creativity; in Lumi they have forged not just an album, but also an immersive journey, a spiritual experience, a force of nature.
Words: Jason Henderson