White Denim - Side Effects - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

White Denim - Side Effects

by Nathan Fidler Rating:5 Release Date:2019-03-29
White Denim - Side Effects
White Denim - Side Effects

Whenever White Denim come around with another album - and they’ve certainly been prolific in the last decade - there is always the joy associated with their jittery rock. But if you’ve followed their trajectory at all, it stalled quite some time ago. Not that their music hasn’t been consistently pleasant, it just hasn’t sent the same kind of ripple of excitement out as their early work.

With Side Effects, there is a clear effort to reintegrate some of their more indie-psychedelic elements from the end of the previous decade. A few albums of straight rock, mostly hampered by a less adventurous drummer, saw them lose of the quirks in their momentum.

The obvious sign-posting of their intentions is rehashing of a track from their standout album Fits - there is was ‘Mirrored and Reverse’, here it’s ‘Reversed Mirror’ - and while enjoyable, it only makes the yearning for that era more stark.

They’re still hitting the kook-rock of recent years with tracks like ‘Shanalala’ and ‘small talk (Feeling Control)’, where you can revel in the toe-tapping drive, squirts of electronics and singer James Petralli’s fresh-air energy.

Elsewhere, the promise of more disruptively creative endeavours falls flat. The best example of this is ‘NY Money’ which begins in a whirr bleeps and zig-zagging sounds but falls into a standard, acoustic-guitar-driven song. It’s straightforward FM rock, which is not a bad thing, it just doesn’t feel like it tops anything they’ve already done.

‘Head Spinning’ brings the only real diversion of sound, offering up a more proto-punk delivery in both crashing guitars and a disillusioned lilt to Petralli’s delivery. This is certainly the most interesting, if not most eagerly pursued thing they’ve written in their recent clutch of albums.

An album not short on ideas, it is more the case that this album is short on confidence of direction. It’s only nine tracks and barely scrapes through to that total given the easily forgettable nature of some numbers. Caught between their desire to get weird again and still rock out, it feels like they need a break (or their original members back).

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