The fifth studio album from Windings, ‘Focus on the Past 5’ is a dark, brooding, edgy affair which sees the Limerick band crafting another musical tour-de force, this time aided and abetted by Daniel Fox of Gilla Band on production duties.

This is the third album from this incarnation of the band, an ever-developing group led by mainstay Steve Ryan with Liam Marley, Pa O’Brien, Mike Gavin and Brian Meaney providing critically intrinsic elements to this masterfully creative ensemble. Whilst ‘I Am Not the Crow’ was an intricate guitar powerhouse, ‘Be Honest & Fear Not’ saw a band expertly expanding their musical palette, and now ‘Focus on the Past 5’ sees them continue that evolution, with the band at their most intense yet.

Windings have always been a band supremely adroit at mixing the light and the grim, relating the rich complexities of life, dreams, tragedy and snatched memories, set to a myriad of inspired musical imaginings. This is deftly illustrated on Black Widow, a track that seems to dreamily emerge out of the haze of the past, with keys, guitars and rumbling bass interweaving playfully whilst “innocent” boyhood stories are decanted, before Ryan delivers a devastating gut punch revelation.

Busy Mind is built on a wonderful fuzzy fulsome bass line, forceful drums and staccato keys before the swirling screech of guitar takes over, reflecting the turbulence of using never-ending exertions to stave off difficult situations and thoughts “If i don’t give myself time to think then there’s no fear there anymore”.

At the midway point of the album Pa O’Brien is unleashed for a double vocal salvo on Breathe In & Portals, the former is one of the more breezier songs on the album and may just be one of the poppiest tracks windings have produced in quite a while, and is sure to be a live favourite once the band are unleashed upon the public again.

Ryan returns to vocal duties for Apocryphal which is not only the album highlight, it is also be one of the strongest tracks released by the band to date. Centring on humanity’s sometimes damaging, unrelenting desire for happiness despite the impact that may have on others, society and the world “friends let’s admit it we’ve lost it” sees Ryan’s frustration build to a crescendo with him howling “why do I want to be so happy all the time?”.

This is Fine sees Ryan imploring with a passionate plea “friend take my hand now make that jump with me”, it’s an urgent request backed by a flurry of guitars which seem to count down to who knows what end, before fading us back in to that uneasy, hazy dream of what might lie ahead or perhaps of what has gone before.

‘Focus on the Past 5’ is a work of dark intensity, a feast of sonic variety which provokes, stirs and rewards with every listen.