Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Sometimes, I wonder where all of our worries and cares go when we've become determined to stop worrying and caring about them, respectively. It seems as if these things might have energy that could be conserved, energy that might potentially be neither destroyed nor created. Just because we were able to pass them, to get them out of our system, doesn't mean that they're just gone forever. One of my new hypotheses is that they are first channeled up to Halifax, Nova Scotia and delivered to the doorstep of Wintersleep lead singer Paul Murphy, who scans through them, determines if there's anything within their contents that he likes and either chooses or discards the material. Either way, he recycles through these troubled thoughts and consternations, these often pivotal and intimate issues that we find hard to shake free of, but eventually do. They become matters that take to the air like smoke - that which we might still have a whiff of in the hairs of our nostrils that we'll smell for a day or two after the origin has died off. When Murphy is done with them, they drift off and collect in a dark and deep part of a forest preserve, a part of the woods that is rarely visited and when it is, it's usually visited by the lost or unfortunate. There are so many roughed times, roughed experiences on Wintersleep songs that we're sure of their coming from some paced out floors and out of the roots of headaches that racked skulls for days. There's a degree of cashing it in for the characters that find themselves in these songs, as if most of the problems they're dealing with are living and breathing, refusing to diminish. They are set to remain as looming and kinetic for as long as we can imagine. They seem unrealistically badgering and heavy, but they seem scary because they don't feel cartoonish. They sound as if - when Murphy sings about them - that they are about as important as they come. They don't sound as if they stem from girl or boy troubles, but from those problems that actually matter beyond the heart and private parts. They are worries about self-worth and about our presumed littleness and our limits. In the song, "Terrible Man," Murphy references the writing of a song for a girl and how little that means, instead focusing the bulk of his words on a world "that could never be kind," singing, "about the taste of tree sap (something recently tasted), about growing old, about his fear of the cold and the darkness at age 27 and how foolish does that make him, bundled up in the cold, afraid of the dark at age 27, a song for a girl, he knew he'd never quite finish, in the drunk breath of autumn, in all its glory and strangeness, we can hide, we can hide, we can hide, we can hide, you are mine, you are mine, you are mine, you are mine." The man that we hear about in the apocalyptic (most Wintersleep songs sound vaguely as if they're all referencing an end of sorts), nobody song, "Search Party," from the group's older album, "Welcome To The Night Sky," where Murphy sings, "Do you believe that the sky is falling?/Do you really think that anybody will listen?/Do you really think that anybody will notice?" and then punctuates the thought with the light salvo, "I used to dream about saving the world/Now I just dream about the holiday." It's something of a man displaced and Wintersleep can field an army of men displaced, still with the rumblings of hunger and dissatisfaction.