Secretly Canadian, 2008

How We Lost, last year’s record from Windsor for the Derby is an interesting proposition. While they have made a commendable career from their own brand of lite post rock, more quiet quiet than loud (quite) loud, they have appeared to drop the heavy instrumentation and have fallen into what they love.

Opener “Let Go” is sparse in its rhythm section, leaving gaping space for the guitar to waft in like a moth on the wind. Drawing the listener in, craning to hear what may be missed, the restraint that from the outset is glaringly obvious.

This release seems to be more thought out than previous; and is even, dare we whisper, structured? “Maladies” is a proper indie rock gem and “Fallen off the Earth” could be an out take from any number of early ’90s bands. Never ones to completely rock out like some of their peers it seems like they have went back to their influences. Taking two parts Tortoise and adding one part Yo La Tengo now seems to be the recipe for success for these guys and it works well here.

What really sets this release apart from its predecessors is the use of vocals. While previously these have been low in the mix, reduced to another mere instrument to be discarded at will, these are used effectively here and are almost pop like in their delivery. None more so than “Forgotten”, which combines all acoustic guitars with beautiful teasing vocals that sweep you away.

The lush atmospherics are still there, ambient flourishes pop up constantly and it still seems to be that the whole instrumentation is greater than the sum. The sprawling “Troubles” is awash with feedback but reigned in with hushed vocals and pounding drums allowing it to glide on where once it would have dissipated away.

The final triplet of “What We Want”, “Good Things” and “Spirit Fade” are magical, full on unembarrassed blatant shoegazing. The like that’s not been seen round these parts for many a year, it’s the sound of a band doing exactly what they want. It’s not hard to imagine where Windsor for the Derby are coming from with this record. We can however be thankful that, while in the past they were reduced to also rans — swept up with a number of bands doing infinitely better work in the same field, here they look to have settled into their skin and who can deny them that?