‘Expect The Best’ is the fourth album from Widowspeak the dreamy ethereal indie-pop band from Brooklyn NYC. A press release describes Expect the Best as the band’s “heaviest album to date, with echoes of Pacific Northwest grunge rippling throughout the album’s nine tracks”. The weightier sound may be attributed to the fact that the band folded its touring members into the band’s creative process, which was once reserved for Hamilton and lead guitarist Robert Earl Thomas. Kevin MacMahon (Swans, Real Estate) produced the record.
Heavy might not be the key adjective as the band seven years in still remain purveyors of mood. They’re an outfit ever preoccupied with the influence of place and the passage of time on personal experience: the way vivid memories can feel like movies or dreams. Existing in a sonic overlap of sombre indie rock, dream pop, downtrodden shoegaze, slow-core and invented ‘cowboy grunge’, Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask, “How did we get here?”
‘Expect The Best’, their fourth for Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks, sees Widowspeak finding balance between opposing forces: darkness and light, quiet and loud, tension and calm. Whether navigating the anxieties of the digital age (‘Expect The Best’), struggling for motivation (‘When I Tried’), or critiquing wanderlust and aspiration (‘The Dream’), the songs recognise there’s no going back in time. Hamilton’s lyrics explore the space between regret and anticipation, reconciling the desire to dwell with a need to ‘expect the best’, even as the best seems unlikely.
Although Widowspeak’s previous two records - ‘Almanac’ (2013) and ‘All Yours’ (2015) - were conceived as a duo, ‘Expect The Best’ finds them playing to the specific strengths of their current touring incarnation. The album exhibits a palpable energy that reflects the band’s live shows. The band navigates dynamic changes with subtlety and restraint; the nine tracks brim with both wide-eyed optimism and resigned melancholy. Their usual palette of dusty guitars and angular twang are still front and centre but now with a 90s homage, even if abstractly. It’s their "heaviest" record to date, but never loses the sense of intimacy Widowspeak are known for.