Newly expanded Widowspeak return with an album of emotional truths. Expect The Best is the embodiment of change: line-up of the band, location and approach to songwriting. Darker than previously, Widowspeak still sound as if they are coaxing the stars down out of a Midwest sky.
Expect The Best was written by Molly Hamilton whilst in Tacoma, Washington, her hometown, a contrast to her usual New York. Many of the tracks mirror the dreamy melancholy of going home to a place where you never fitted in and coming to terms with your feeling of displacement on your return. ‘The Dream’ reflects this in the acoustic and slide guitar, the ‘cowboy grunge’ that Widowspeak describe their music as.
Other than the first release, ‘Dog’, there are few tracks on Expect The Best that leap out as singles. Instead the album is largely one of sombre feelings and textures, enhanced by the addition of James Jano’s drums and Willy Muse’s bass. ‘Dog’ ebbs and flows underneath Robert Earl Thomas’s slide guitar. Molly Hamilton looks like Stevie Nicks but sings like Hope Sandoval. However, unlike Sandoval, Hamilton does look like she might piss on you if you were on fire.
There is a real aura of cool about the album, most noticeably on tracks such as ‘When I Tried’, ‘Let Me’ and ‘Right On’. It could be resignation, it could be languor, either way something is being held back. It might be through lethargy rather than anything contrived. These tracks are uncomplicated four-piece guitar band with sultry female singer tracks. Added background ‘woos’ sound like an apathetic wind. As in so many places the lyrics are difficult to make out, the message is in the delivery rather than the meaning. ‘Right On’ is especially successful with an expressive but low key guitar taunting in the middle section. A perfect three minute track.
‘Warmer’ is another strong track. More haunting in rhythm, noted by the simple taps on the rim of the drum and the ominous chimes of the guitar. This track is White Stripes when Meg sings. However, we are getting warmer not because we have reached comfort but because we are walking ever closer to a wild fire.
There isn’t anything to distinguish the title track from any others on Expect The Best. It offers the clearest juxtaposition of a heavy, grungy guitar and a dreamy vocal but that is all. Likewise, ‘Fly On The Wall’, the seven minute closer is neither anthemic nor dramatic. You will need something to counteract the oppressiveness after listening to this album.
To be eaten whole like a box of Black Magic.
Expect The Best will be released on 25th August 2017 through Captured Tracks.