CD Review: Winger – Better Days Comin'

CD Review: Winger – Better Days Comin'
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: A-

Winger - Better Days Comin' 2014
Winger's Karma has decidedly taken a turn for the better. Once bashed by critics, constantly derided on "Beavis and Butt-head" and symbolically trashed by Metallica in the video for "Nothing Else Matters," where Lars Ulrich tosses darts at a poster of Kip Winger, these '80s purveyors of melodic metal had seen their career trajectory crash and burn in the '90s. And then grunge came along and finished the job.

Their reputation shot to hell, Winger disbanded in 1994, but the story doesn't end there. A damn sight more intelligent and musically sophisticated than the hair-metal crowd they ran with, a resilient Winger reunited in 2001, and eight years later, intent on restoring their good name, they issued Karma, their fifth studio album. 

Unexpectedly heavy and disarmingly alluring, with a series of intricate progressive-rock instrumental passages, Karma was remarkable, a stunning reminder of what Winger was capable of when properly motivated. Out via Frontiers RecordsBetter Days Comin' is more of the same, and perhaps even more dynamic than its much-praised predecessor.

Cementing its reputation as the "Dream Theater of pop-metal," Winger's compositions are artfully sketched out on Better Days Comin', where they trot out the sweeping, atmospheric epic "Out of this World" as the album's closer, its moody clouds pierced by the lighting bolts of a spectacular guitar solo. Guitarists Reb Beach and John Roth are as sharp as ever here, their byzantine leads and riffs biting down hard on sizzling, irresistibly crunchy rockers such as the gritty "Rat Race," the lust-filled "Midnight Driver of a Love Machine" – which has a memorable little earwig of a chorus – and the grinding "Another Beautiful Day."

Strangely colorful and maneuvering in the odd time signatures of a band like Yes, "Tin Soldier" weaves through prog-rock's twisting back roads and takes in beautifully diverse, ever-shifting instrumental scenery, while occasionally encountering slight dissonance. On the brighter, funkier title track, Winger embraces its inner Sly and the Family Stone and shining optimism, before settling into the drifting, Beatlesque psychedelia of "Be Who You Are, Now."

The genius of Winger is that they make challenging music that's also warmly human and accessible, all of it consisting of the tricky, yet powerful drumming of former Dixie Dreg Rod Morgenstein, silvery synthesizers, sure hooks and Kip Winger's gripping vocals. It seems Beavis and Butt-head had them all wrong.
– Peter Lindblad


  1. Rarely do we get to see such dramatic irony in life: Kip Winger, along with the band itself, has been the subject of constant chastising since their inception and yet of all the artists and bands from that period, few, if any, publish workable, quizzical, contemplative arrangements that show even the slightest bit of musical growth or human insight. Kip's solo CD's, along with the WINGER CD's, somehow combine both artistry and brilliance with basic mind-numbing and head-banging riffs; melodies that pump in such a way that it's as if they were crafted for each individual's unique ear. I love when people continue to work on their craft despite the insecurity of the naysayers that stand in the corner, broke and desolate, pointing their finger at the 'triers' of the world in an attempt to persuade them to join the 'greatest band of all time, dude' : MISERY. Kudos to the band WINGER - your new stuff is as fantastic as your old stuff; identical and yet different - flawed and yet perfect, soft and yet ROCK HARD! Love the new CD! - Mike McMannes

  2. Couldn't have said it better, Mike!

    1. Oh, you already said it much better! That was a Great review! I kept saying...yeah.....yep......that's right.....yep. :)But thanks for the kind words!

  3. Well, thank you for the compliment, Mike. I really appreciate it, and I hope you'll keep reading!