New Ways of Living - the sophomore album from Irish indie/emo quintet The Winter Passing - is a wonderfully upbeat, versatile LP. It’s easy to envision these songs blaring through open car windows on a sunny road trip, or hearing the anthemic choruses being sung in a sweaty, crowded venue. There are also moments of contemplation on the record, with quieter tracks ‘I Want You’ and ‘Mind Yourself’, which encourage a moment to just listen quietly.
From start to finish, New Ways of Living is a masterpiece. ‘Ghost Thing’, the opening track, feels like a nod to the raw vocals and screaming guitars of old-school punk. This coarse sound is subtly masked by the bold drum beats and Kate Flynn’s melodic vocals. It is this understanding and use of contrasting styles that sets this album apart from others – the changing tones wonderfully enhance the song, causing the lyrics to completely capture attention.
Both ‘Melt’ and ‘The Street and the Stranger’ bring some beautiful emotion to the album. Lyrically, Kate Flynn and her brother Rob Flynn tackle themes of loneliness, bullying, and anxieties from their Irish working-class background. Drawing on their emotions creates a feeling of warmth, acting as a reminder that no one is alone in their experiences.
Emotions take a backseat in ‘Crybaby’; it has an upbeat, summery tone and the flirty, floaty vibe will enthral you. Rob’s carefully curated bass line shines here, the warm tone perfectly fitting the sunny theme. This bass can be heard clearly in ‘Resist’ too, another sublime single. Accompanied by electric guitars with the same warm tone, the Flynn siblings show their growth since the release of their first album. Guitar riffs are bigger, vocals are even better, and there is nothing here to dislike.
‘I Want You’ is another deeply personal track. This time, the lyrics are delivered over a background of gentle guitars and delicate keys. This soft sound grows throughout the song’s three minutes, bringing together a plethora of instruments. ‘I Want You’ feels tender and cinematic as Kate Flynn sings “I want you to know I will always love you”.
The beauty of the gentle, quiet tracks tugs at the heartstrings, while the bold, bright sounding indie-punk tunes act as motivation to dance around your kitchen. New Ways of Living explores emotions in a fascinatingly catchy way. Layers of vocals and guitars create an atmosphere of energy – or peace, depending on which track you’re listening to – and this offers a blissful, essentially perfect listening experience.