Winston Yellen Night Bed Analysis

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Even in today’s wonderfully varied musical landscape, where artists skip from genre to genre without the blink of an eye, it can be surprising to see a change in musical direction the size of Night Beds’ newest record. Winston Yellen’s first album as Night Beds, Country Sleep, was acoustic to the core: songs like “Ramona”, “22”, and “Was I For You?” are passionate and melancholy, and Yellen’s unique voice felt at home set to strummed guitars and reverb-soaked keys. Consequently, it was a bit of a shock to turn on the lead single from Ivywild, “Me Liquor and God”, and hear pulsing, bombastic synths leading the way. On this album, Yellen has taken a brave step in a new direction; Country Sleep was a decent debut, and departing from its country-tinged…show more content…
Instrumentally, the album explores a kind of gray area between synthpop and R&B - tracks like the captivatingly punchy “[9-6] slack-jaw” bounce to a beat, while deeper cuts “Moon Sugar” and “Love Streams” tend to slow down and fall on the more intimate side of Yellen’s reportoire. Ivywild has an interesting grasp on synthpop; Yellen’s take on the genre is full of diffracted samples and reverbed vocals, with artfully placed guitar lines here and there. Strings are used as embellishment, and even Country Sleep’s old moonlit acoustic guitar makes a few appearances. Nothing stands above the rest, but almost all of Ivywild’s songs occupy an area hard not to like - aesthetically pretty synthpop, with pleasantly frayed…show more content…
Opener “Finished” drags a little too long at six minutes; although the racket it makes is rather nice, with echoing strings and Auto-Tuned vocals, it feels strange to start the record off with its longest and least eventful song. However, Ivywild is honestly not the tasteless mess you’d expect from an alt-country-gone-synthpop act; it’s impressively cohesive, and is consistently attractive musically. This record’s biggest problem might just be its lack of anything stunningly beautiful. Ivywild’s network of synths and samples helps to hide Yellen’s inconsistency in songwriting (for while Country Sleep has some gorgeous songs, it also has a few extremely dull ones); however, it’s missing that emotional immediacy that can only come with a guitar and a whisper, and Yellen hasn’t quite found something to replace that. None of Ivywild’s music is as good as some of the stuff on Country Sleep, but nevertheless, this record has to be a success for Yellen considering the vast instrumental difference between Night Beds’ two albums. Ivywild is not a masterpiece, and it’s not a bomb; it’s a smartly crafted synthpop record that brings out some of Winston Yellen’s best talents while hiding

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