It's been almost three years since John Roderick and his Long Winters dropped the critically acclaimed When I Pretend to Fall. Since then, keyboardist/vocalist Sean Nelson and drummer Michael Shilling have departed, leaving only bassist Eric Corson and bandleader John Roderick to tend to the fire. If their new EP, a quietly explosive collage of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-meets-the Flaming Lips bombast, is any indication of where Roderick is taking the project, fans will have much to rejoice about. Built around the elegiac opener "The Commander Thinks Aloud" -- save two unnecessary live tracks -- Ultimatum is a rare EP that sounds almost important enough to be considered essential within the artist's canon. While it may eventually serve as a bridge to subsequent recordings, on first listen it sounds like a rebirth. Roderick's emotive vocals are in full effect, soaring fearlessly over drum loops, orchestral samples, and serpentine guitar lines -- it's not as shocking as that sounds, but it is noticeably more progressive than the sweet Americana pop attack heard on previous recordings -- resulting in one the year's biggest teasers. Let's hope that what follows is as passionate as it is complex.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger