Seely's fourth album, Winter Birds, is the group's creative peak, integrating all the influences that made their previous work enjoyable -- if somewhat derivative -- and adding a wide range of new elements to their sound, including jazz, electronica, and folk. The album's first song, "El Cajon," blends sax, spiraling piano lines, and subtle beats into a low-key yet engaging introduction to the band's new direction. Seely's general drift is still dreamy, though, as the delicate rhythms and backward guitars on "Alias Grace" and the sweet vocals on "Planes Circle Do" prove. "Vivian Girls," named after Henry Darger's artwork and writing, shows another facet of the band's explorations, marrying a simple acoustic guitar melody with atmospheric synths and Steven Satterfield's reflective singing. Even Seely's more traditional songs, like the guitar epic "Sapelo Sound," seem invigorated. The group's most distinctive and listenable album to date, Winter Birds delivers on Seely's long-held potential.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares