There has always been a certain air to the music that Josh Augustin and Sam Winemiller have created under the Vansire name, ever since their first releases back in 2016. For any familiar listeners, the immersive, dream-like nature of their music encapsulates sentiments of youth, escapism, and modernism as authentically and down-to-earth as two college students making music in their bedroom could naturally be. On The Modern Western World, Vansire expands the scope of their artistry to dimensions beyond their Midwestern hometown, while managing to still capture the picturesque, ethereal sound they have refined so beautifully at this point in their young career, making their third full-length album a pivotal, and charming, body of work for the duo.
The album follows a holistic and interconnected journey from start-to-finish, well-grounded in their stylistic roots, but with more than enough bends in the road to make their musical expedition a captivating one. By default, the duo’s comfortable brand of dream pop, chillwave, and americana is more refined than ever and remains potent in its ability to transport listeners to other spaces.
The opening to the album, for example, puts listeners right on the American open road with its swift, plucked acoustics and intimate vocals. It elicits the feeling of a deep breath of fresh air, marking the beginning of the cross-country journey to come.
“Nosebleed Seats” beautifully captures the freedom of aimless exploration, the driving bass line and animated, blurry guitar loops backdropping the feeling of sitting in the world’s nosebleed seats “a hundred miles from the closest town.” And the wistful and melancholic “Seattle and so Forth” is perhaps the most vivid and evocative track on the record, its rolling piano passages and pillowy acoustics painting the most serene images of the northwest as Augustin sings of a longing for a distant endearment.
The path also takes a number of stylistic left turns, incorporating a slew of neighboring genres, featuring a more sizable list of guest features, and even taking their musical scope worldwide, all for the better as Vansire finds footing in their expanded sound. The strong jazz influence on tracks such as “Think it Through” or “Open Late” not only wash down incredibly smoothly, but the almost live-sounding instrumentation breathes a whole new atmosphere into the listening experience.
Their delves into pop (“Night Vision”, “Next Time in New York”), ambient (“Reflection No. 7 Anwatin Pond”), and rap (“Regroup & Start Anew”, “Transitions”) all fit and blend together seamlessly as well, and at moments it’s refreshing to even hear their active and socially conscious voice surfacing more audibly in the songwriting.
What The Modern Western World invariably seems to indicate is that Vansire is reaching a crucial new gear in their artistry as a whole. Now graduated and full-time artists, Augustin and Winemiller display a different level of comfortability, expansion, and focus that their previous bodies of work have evidently hinted at, but perhaps only needed time and experience to flourish as much as it does on this album. As the listeners will undoubtedly grow and the tours will undoubtedly expand, The Modern Western World may ultimately function as catalytic turning point.