No Motiv have been criminally overlooked ever since emerging from the Nardcore punk scene in Oxnard, California, in the mid-’90s. While their early releases were a bit of a second-rate, emo NOFX, they released a trio of impressively consistent albums on Vagrant Records around the turn of the century (which, nonetheless, failed to garner the sort of success labelmates such as Alkaline Trio, Saves The Day and the Get Up Kids experienced). Whether or not that contributed to their quiet hiatus in 2005 after releasing Daylight Breaking the year prior is anyone's guess. But some time in 2011, the band reconvened to record the majority of Winterlong, which they would release through Siren Records on CD and, more recently, on limited vinyl via Black Numbers. For all the time taken with the band's hiatus, is it any good?
Definitely. Winterlong is just the type of loud, dark, punky alt-rock No Motiv fans probably would have expected after Daylight Breaking. Each of the six tracks hover around the four-minute mark, and band use the time well, filling the space with dynamic riffs that cast a melancholy tone. Frontman Jeremy Palaszewski's vocals range from languid murmurs to strained, wounded yelps, and it only helps create variety with individual songs. In fact, Winterlong occasionally has some of the heaviest stuff in the band's expansive catalog, from the prowling, mid-tempo thump of “Bled” to the pulsing, Muse-like swagger on closer “Deathwish,” the latter of which might strike some as subtly cheesy. No matter the emotional result, though, the sound fits in 2012 as much as it would have a decade ago: “Once Again Sundays” could be a more charged take on The Rising Tide-era Sunny Day Real Estate, while the band resemble a Matt Skiba-sung Alkaline Trio song on the verses of the aforementioned “Dead As The Day.”
No Motiv have always seemed to come a few steps short of conceiving a full, front-to-back brilliant album, and even as an EP, Winterlong doesn't buck that trend. Still, it's hard to deny how many enjoyable songs they've written that effortlessly blend big alt-rock crunch with darker emotional overtones, and this EP is no exception. At worst, Winterlong adds another half-dozen head-bobbers to No Motiv's arsenal that will hopefully inspire them to book a few shows.