In 2021, the idea of editing yourself can sound cynical—it’s been tainted by social-media influencers who manufacture images and videos of a blemish-free life of luxury while struggling to make ends meet offline. But on their brand-new second album, Cutting Room Floor, dark Chicago synth-pop duo Wingtips suggest that self-editing can be part of a process of personal growth, where you let mistakes and insecurities flit away like strips of celluloid snipped from a film. Vincent Segretario and Hannah Avalon have developed an aesthetic steeped in love for theater and the dreamy, dreary sounds of gothy 80s and 90s synth-pop bands, but on Cutting Room Floor they also embrace new directions and experiments—as well as some of their best songwriting yet. “Minimalistic” starts the record with what sounds like a dial-up modem, then opens up into a patchwork of melodic verses, squalling guitar sleaze, and multitextured backup vocals. That sweet-and-salty combo continues through much of the album: pristine, anthemic choruses (“Crystal Clear”) and dreamy ballads (“Fallback”) contrast with sinister, pulsating bangers (“Repetitive”). Segretario takes the lion’s share of lead vocals, but some of the record’s most interesting moments come from the interplay between his singing and Avalon’s, notably on the bright, up-tempo “Cross the Line”—and when Avalon takes center stage on “Run for Cover,” she’s a commanding presence. It’s a tall order to cast any album this goth-indebted as uplifting, but as the Delta variant threatens to strip away our “new normal,” Cutting Room Floor feels like permission to accept what we can’t change as we strive to keep our heads up.
Cutting Room Floor is available from Artoffact Records.