Divide those who speak of Winger into two groups: a)Those who appreciate good songwriting and musicianship -regardless of genre and b)those who stereotype artists based on current trends choose music based on the radio. If you are in group a, read on. If you are in group b, here’s hoping you can enjoy yet another Disturbed/Creed/Godsmack/Fillintheblank album.
Winger and Beach return 10 years after ‘Pull’ with possibly their strongest effort to date. If you’ve been following Kip’s solo career, or Beach’s solo efforts, The Mob, etc. you know where this album stands. It is pure, unadulterated Winger, minus the hairspray of Heart of Young, and minus the grunge pressure of ‘Pull’ (not that the band subscribed to either of those movements except in image). Songwriting and musicianship has always been the issue with these guys. Even their quintessential hair metal offering ‘In the Heart of the Young’ featured radio-absent cuts like ‘Rainbow in the Rose’ and ‘The Day We’ll Never See’. Take all the maturity of Pull’s ‘Who’s the One’ and ‘Down Incognito’- add ten years and a little prog-rock flavor and you have Winger IV.
Don’t be put off by the plodding, strung out pace of the first two tracks, the album picks up with ‘Four Leaf Clover’ and doesn’t stop. Possibly the strongest Winger song ever – ‘Disappear’- is an example of the Winger/Beach writing team in it’s prime. Lyrically, I don’t hesitate to say that this album offers the most intellectual and passionate statement about the war in Iraq from every possible angle. Beyond the finger-pointing posture of Green Day, or the emotional pandering of Springsteen, Kip has really captured the guts of the soldiers, the Iraqi people, and even directs a condemning, yet empathetic discourse to GW Bush on ‘Can’t Take it Back.’
For those who are forever recalling ‘Seventeen’ as a snapshot of what Winger is all about, you’ll find very little of that band here except the shockingly brilliant guitar virtuosity of Reb Beach. These guys have grown up, musically, lyrically, and sonically. Great for returning fans, great for skeptics.