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The Winks

Who: The Winks, who hail from Montreal (via Vancouver), put the “collect” in “collective”: Though they’re officially a two-piece — Todd MacDonald (mandolin, vocals) and Tyr Jami (cello, vocals) — they list no fewer than thirteen rotating members that contribute to the group’s off-kilter pop sounds. The band has released five limited edition CD-Rs and one joint album with Tights, but Nov. 17 marked the release of their second official studio album, Birthday Party.

What’s the Deal? Carried by Jami’s cello, the ten tracks on Birthday Party express a contemplative depth. Jami’s voice — sweeter than Sugarcubes-era Bjork — seems less plainly upbeat than it is investigative, while MacDonald’s offerings in the vocal department have ventured into longing territory. Meanwhile, great swells of instrumentation show the band maturing in real-time. For proof, look no further than the darkly elegiac “0[].” Or, if you’d rather stay on the celebratory side, stick to tracks like “Slumber Party Let’s Go.” Either way, you’re getting a gift.

Fun Fact: According to Winks lore, its two founding members met on a pier when MacDonald — dressed as a dolphin for a summer job at the Vancouver Aquarium — overheard Jami busking Bach on her cello nearby. He just happened to have his mandolin with him, so he ditched the dolphin suit. The rest, as they claim, is history. KAITLIN FONTANA

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The Winks – “Guitar Swing” DOWNLOAD MP3

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