As the first fuzzy guitar sounds on the opening track, you might think you have its sound pegged, but WIN WIN’s self-titled debut can’t be taken that lightly. Just when it seems as though a song is going to fall into a predictable pattern, it finds a new direction, always keeping listeners on their toes.
The debut of Alex “XXXChange” Epton, DJ Chris Devlin and visual artist Ghostdad is chock-full of synths, with a groove that is irresistibly catchy. Ranging from a controlled sound on tracks like “Future Again,” to freer songs like “Releaserpm” on which guest singer Lizzie Bougatsos completely lets loose while singing about needing “some sort of release,” WIN WIN takes inspiration from the minimalist school of thought while also inciting head bobs.
Though the album contains a number of danceable tracks, particularly “Victim,” others are more suited to be heard alongside the visual art of Ghostdad as they actually sound like movement. In “Ghosts/Delirium 3,” the low synth sounds like someone tip-toeing around a haunted house, and the music builds to emulate the character losing her mind. “Distorted Reality 3″ describes the sound the movement of someone strutting around, while showing the group’s ability to play with and distort the various synth sounds.
Despite an art house vibe, WIN WIN keeps it playful. Tracks never go on too long, leaving listeners with just enough to keep wanting more. Even the special guests from Andrew W.K. to members of Hot Chip, are not overdone, as some tracks are the sole work of the trio. The mix of synths (ranging from insect-like to dubstep), real instruments and cell phone recordings isn’t hard to follow in terms of layering, but have a lot to offer in how they interact with the vocals and percussion throughout the record.