In Review: White Denim - World As A Waiting Room
On 14th March, just as most states were going into full lockdown in the USA, White Denim announced that they were going to write, record, mix and master a new LP in 30 days. No easy feat, and World As A Waiting Room, completed on April 17th, inarguably puts most lockdown productivity to shame, but is it any good?
White Denim are a prolific band regardless of whether there’s a global pandemic. Driven by the manic energy of frontman James Petralli, they have been putting out consistently solid psychedelic garage-rock records for over a decade (10 albums in 12 years) and World As A Waiting Room is no different. However at this point is that enough?
It’s very much a White Denim album, with the firm 70’s foundation and psychedelic, garage-rock, jazz, and other influences accounted for. However, previous albums have all had a certain consistency, from the brash garage energy of Workout Holiday to the sleazy pop-precision of Stiff. WAAWR can feel a little thin or patched together in places. This is hardly surprising given the circumstances. That said it’s still a lot of fun breezing through these nine tracks and this looseness can even be a strength at times. Unadorned tracks such as ‘Queen of the Quarantine’ and ‘King Prospero’ have an uncharacteristic and welcome ease about them.
One thing that is consistent with the album is the tempo, which, ‘Queen of the Quarantine’ aside, does not really let up over its 31-minute run time. Previous albums have always had some breathers but the urgency of the global situation or just the timeframe is expressed in its fervour.
Lyrically, the themes are of course centred around all things lockdown. There is plentiful existential fear and frustration, “it won’t stop runnin’, my mind, the refrigerator hummin'”, with some glimmers of hope and romance “Yeah, we're makin' the isolation scene, she's the queen of the quarantine”.
As anyone who’s been to see them live will attest, White Denim are first and foremost a live act, so their music asks to be listened to through this frame. In that regard, these songs sound like they could be as great to hear live as anything they’ve done, though sadly it’s unlikely they’ll get to be road tested anytime soon. This may not be one of the better White Denim albums, but it is still, as is fitting of a band of this caliber, a joy to listen to, and considering they knocked it together over only 30 days in isolation, highly impressive.
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