Wednesday, 22 April 2015

White Arrows (ALBUM REVIEW) 'In Bardo'

On sophomore album ‘In Bardo, LA’s psychotropical exports White Arrows weave their way through the current indie-rock crop chiefly by following their own divinely psychedelic path. Swirling songs which should sound dangerously familiar around the listener’s brain, the record is a completely unexpected treat. 

Things are most recognisable in the angular chorus of ‘Get By’, where the band peddle the syncopated chords which have launched a thousand NME reviews with a self-conscious strut which belies a youth spent doing Mick Jagger impressions without moving the shoulders. There are similar sharp edges in the top-button bass hooks in the verses of ‘We Can’t Ever Die’, but both tracks quickly leave these influences at the door, the former swimming through far-out verses and the latter exploding to provide the record’s first indication of its radio-friendly credentials. 

These are taken up several notches on the infectious ‘Can’t Stop Now’ which has the requisite tenderness in verse and life-affirmance in chorus to captivate music fans, then appeal to advertising agencies before washing over a field of people in a wave which flushes out the marketers for good. Although at times bordering on guilty-pleasure material the band might have indulged this part of their sound a little more; much of the rest of the record is given over to their psychedelic influences, which they explore with varying degrees of success.  

‘Devil’s Chimes’ is a solid effort and in its spindly opening motif ‘Nobody Cares’ recalls the xx, bathed in Californian sunshine for a slow-builder which trades introspection for extroversion as it goes on. Mickey Church’s vocals may be too whiny for some, but by and large it’s a victory, unlike ‘Scream’, which is saved only by some magnificently “dude, man” guitar parts. 

‘Chill Winston’ haunts, ‘Leave It Alone’ chugs with the ghost of grunge and final acts ‘God Alert Pt 1’ and ‘God Alert Pt 2’ melt into each other in a lush technicolour love-in, but it’s at the other end of the album with ‘I Want A Taste’ that the band are truly magnetic, commanding attention rather than doling out sonic beers-in-the-sun. Lilting vocals and expansive harmonies give way to resounding crashes which hammer home the message that this isn’t just a group of air-head chancers, this is a band with depth for days which you absolutely must get to know. 

Words - Joe Ponting

In Bardo is released via Votiv on April 27th