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Winger: Better Days Comin'

Five years have passed and Winger have traded in Karma (2009) for Better Days Comin', an album that finally means that the band have served up as many albums since their 2001 reunion, as they did during their original six years together. Musically those eras are distinct as well, but truth be told, not as blatantly as many will have you believe. Yes back in the day Kip and the boys sang songs about being a certain age and with girl's names in the titles, yet delve into these songs and certainly album tracks from Sahara (although it's only ever really been called Winger) and In The Heart Of The Young and a far more technical, capable, challenging band was revealed. Pull, the third album of the early triumvirate threw off the "hair" shackles and served up an altogether heavier, yet sophisticated outfit and all the better it was for it. Still though and even after Kip having a wide, varied, almost progressive solo career, that now even takes in scoring classical pieces for ballet, people still expect Winger to write Melodic Rock "hits". With Karma they did, and they didn't, and Better Days Comin' is even more of both and neither.

"Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine" roars out of the blocks, literally, through growling engines and Winger on the radio (ala "Detroit Rock City"). It's catchy, it's racy, it's big and it's clever as Reb Beach and Jon Roth tear it a new one both through the riff and searing solo. And this is no one off, "Queen Babylon" trading another deep shove of guitars against a synth pulse and sublime layers of vocals, before "Rat Race" ups the intensity with another rush of good time sounds, against deeper lyrics and a snarling, heartfelt vocal from Kip. If you're a Winger fan you're gonna love this introductory trio; this is how to set a stall out and provide hard hitting, memorable Melodic Rock and then some.

However from there things turn, spin and grow angles. If you've heard Kip's wonderful solo catalogue, you'll be very at home indeed as eclecticism rules alongside intricate arrangements, hooks aplenty, and melodic progressive themes. The title track struts and slides through an enigmatic chorus before exploding into a funkalicious chorus of staccato guitar, bulging bass and handclaps I've been singing it for days! It is the sort of thing Jeff Scott Soto so wrongly got lambasted for on Beautiful Mess and equally as smile inducing. "Tin Soldier" takes things further, a spiralling cascade of piano, reminding of Kip's "Ghosts", the track that evolved into the ballet suite, before a scream of vocals and grating guitars fight gleefully against thunderous drums (Rod Morgenstein is monstrous, as usual) and an achingly melodic undercurrent, before "Ever Wonder" reins in the glorious excesses to reveal a classic Winger ballad.

Those a little confused by the spinning, grinning interlude are allowed back on the ride by the simpler, yet lasting hit of "So Long China", where again Beach and Roth rule supreme, before the brooding dark atmosphere of "Storm In Me" hits hard and angular, "Be Who You Are, Now" delivers another subtle soothing salve and "Out Of This World" bounces and contemplates in equal measure, once more reminding of solo Kip and offering a stunning guitar solo to close. The deluxe pack also comes with a bonus cut, "Another Beautiful Day".

For some, Winger will never again be the band they want them to be. Thankfully, Better Days Comin' is far, far better than that, illustrating a band capable and willing to stretch boundaries, while still keeping hold of what and who they've always been. Casual observers, long time fans and naysayers should all take note, for Better Days Comin' is, put simply, quite fantastic.

Track Listing
1. Midnight Driver of a Love Machine
2. Queen Babylon
3. Rat Race
4. Better Days Comin'
5. Tin Soldier
6. Ever Wonder
7. So Long China
8. Storm In Me
9. Be Who You Are, Now
10. Another Beautiful Day (bonus track)
11. Out Of This World

Added: April 26th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Winger online
Hits: 4484
Language: english

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