Windsor for the Derby - "Queen of the Sun" (Against Love)
Singer-guitarists Dan Matz and Jason McNeely have spent the better part of this decade coming at the song from different angles. Dashed off or worked over for months, dressed up with a 1980s sheen or down with rustic acoustic guitars, written on their own or by Swell Maps, the song has been the thing. It must have come as a shock to newer fans to hear the reissues of their mid-’90s recordings, spacey instrumental efforts that earned them the post-rock tag.
They haven’t so much gone full circle as taken it all in on Against Love. Matz and McNeely are still strumming those guitars and singing lines that crystallize feelings of loss and regret in wistful voices that blend so well together, it’s hard to tell which one sounds more like David Gilmour. But half of the record’s tracks are vocal free, and they feel like the more dominant half; even when the singing is clear and the sentiments right up front, they’re subsumed into the record’s dreamy sound.
Which isn’t to say that it all sounds the same; there’s a world of difference between the country-tinged lament “Dull Knives,” with its lap steel curly-cues, and the squelchy synth swells and detuned guitars on “Moon Shadows,” or between the downbeat dissection “Our Love’s a Calamity” and the perky drum machine beats and warm static bursts of the vocal-free “Singer 1968.” But it all strings together so well that you remember the album’s vibe more than the constituent parts.
Windsor for the Derby have been around for a decade and a half. They’ve survived years in which Matz and McNeely lived half a country apart, and if there’s any autobiography in these songs, then at least one of them is paying a shrink or an attorney. But despite the travails they’ve experienced and the ones they sing about, this ultimately feels like a hopeful record. The sorrows feel like ones you can live through, the joys like ones you can grasp. They may be Against Love, but they still sound game for life.