- by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2016-03-25 Label: Downtown
Natural evolution for White Denim is not the same as the natural evolution of any other band. Stiff, the Texan group’s seventh album, bears this out, dropping most of the psychedelic antics and instead ramping up the cornball rock element.
It’s hard to know what is truly within the realms of possibility for this band as they jitter around you, grooving, shaking, continually side-stepping your figuring of them. Where they once looked like the latest indie-kids to enfold psychedelic movements into their sound, this was soon switched up. Corsicana Lemonade saw them pull in more funk-rock, and now they’ve added the driving riffs of 70s rock, slightly southern, but always laced with fun.
‘Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)’ is constantly encouraging us to “be yourself and try to have a good time”, while ‘Mirrored in Reverse’ revs up the riffs and puts it’s foot down. The real standout track is ‘Real Deal Momma’, starting off like an annoying comedy theme tune, but soon delivers up “truck stops” and “drinking” with squealing licks and those trademark driving drums.
Things might get a little weird on ‘(I’m the One) Big Big Fun’, and it will all hinge on whether you love or loath the lazy wah scattered throughout - oh, and don’t forget the tinkle of the odd cowbell. There is far more soul here than White Denim have previously been given credit for too, ‘Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting)’ showing James Petralli channeling his inner Barry White, giving them a new dimension once again.
The album artwork, a pair of woolen tighty-whities stuffed with prickly, phallic cactus, actually sums up the band pretty well at this point. Geekily confident and never afraid to strut their stuff, it’s crazy to think they still fly somewhat under the radar, then again, it might be better if the secret stays between us.
‘There’s A Brain In My Head’ and ‘Thank You’ show two blips in an otherwise brilliant effort, but at the very least it shows they’re always trying to keep things interesting - both for themselves and their listeners.