Country : Canada Label : Acrophase Records Genres and styles : Ambient Pop / Indie Pop Year : 2023

Winona Forever – Acrobat

· by Lyle Hendriks

To call Vancouver-based indie pop outfit Winona Forever’s new album ‘bad’ would be a huge disservice. Known for tight, meticulous compositions, complex arrangements, and a sunshine hue overlaid on their past projects, Winona Forever is one of the Vancouver indie scene’s foremost groups. Their newest album, Acrobat, is one of the band’s most refined, thoughtfully-created pieces to date. And yet despite this, I can’t help but feel bored by it.

Realistically, my thoughts on Acrobat stem from expectations and bias. The group’s prior album, Feelgood (2019) is one of my all-time favourites, with its eclectic but deeply cohesive collection of tracks that could safely accompany just about anything you’re doing. Their weirdo, modern psychedelia approach to pop proved to be a winning formula, with the album’s strange timings, hazy compositions, and quintessential youthfulness winning them huge cult acclaim on the West Coast and beyond. 

My first thought while listening through Acrobat was that it sounds as if the band’s doctors told them to keep their heart rate down. This is likely due to the band’s approach of composing around piano first, rather than the more guitar-centric sound that drove their initial two albums. While this does result in tightly-crafted, minimalist pop songs that are undeniably catchy, it also leads to a feeling of simplicity and, worse, predictability. 

This album will likely be a light, enjoyable listen for anyone fortunate enough to just be discovering this band. But for those who, like myself, were taken by the curveball, endlessly surprising jams of Feelgood and This Is Fine (2016), there is an undeniable plain-ness to these new tracks that feels like an extreme underutilization of their talents and imagination. 
Winona Forever’s latest album is by no means a bad one, and perhaps my experience with Acrobat is simply a symptom of a band trying to follow up on such a killer sophomore album. Here’s hoping that the group’s future projects find ways to marry this album’s indifferent (yet skillful) vibe with their prior catalogue’s energy and innovation. There’s a lot to like on Acrobat, but I’m looking for something to love.

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