Since bursting onto the late ‘80s hard rock scene, Winger has often gotten a bad rap, mostly due to non-musical complaints. I’m not going to review it all here, but suffice it to say that the band’s post-fame material (IV, and KARMA) went a long way with the band’s fans and rehabilitated the group’s undeservedly tarnished image. As for me, I hold the opinion that the band’s 1993 opus, PULL is a hard rock masterpiece that was unjustly ignored because of the grunge fad at the time.
Anyway, it’s been five years since the band released KARMA, so it’s high time we got some new music. Fortunately, BETTER DAYS COMIN’ is MORE than worth the wait. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it rivals PULL for the title of best Winger album ever. Musically the band is in top form throughout, as they have bee their entire career. Kip Winger’s vocals are as strong and smooth as ever, really shining on disparate tracks like the hard rocking “Rat Race” and the silky, beautiful ballad “Ever Wonder”. In fact, while Winger has always been far more musically competent than your average rock band, this album really shows the band’s maturity, particularly in the two ballads which, while true ballads, are far from the formulaic power ballads that you would expect.
Elsewhere, the band’s slight progressive influences show themselves with the twisting “Tin Soldier” and grand finale “Out of this World”. However, when the band gets down to straight-up rocking, they are still one of the best: the first three tracks all kick ass, as does the sleek “So Long China”. In short, this band can still do it all, and just about every single song on the album is a winner.
For a band this long in the tooth, Winger is still vital and possibly better than ever. BETTER DAYS COMIN’ is the proof.
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