Few bands can pull off sounding like their music is from a different era without sounding satirical or crass. However, Austin rockers White Denim have proved that they have skills and imagination in abundance. As a result, their new album ‘Performance‘ sounds like it has come straight from the 70s.
You’d think that after releasing seven albums, a band would start to either run out of ideas or slow down a little. Neither is the case here, as this record is as energetic as sugar-fuelled toddler from start to finish. Maybe it is a fresh wave of inspiration stemmed from signing to label City Slang? Or perhaps White Denim are just one of those bands that keeps on giving.
Kicking off the album is ‘Magazin’. The simple beat works to ground the record’s beginning, whilst brass instruments serve to add density to the track. The vocals are the highlight, sounding like a divine mixture of Marc Bolan and David Bowie. Space-like sound effects are scattered around the instrumental section, projecting the song from a middle-of-the-road indie number to a satisfying alternative offering.
Bouncier than a bouncy castle, ‘Fat Slime’ works its hardest to produce sounds fitting for a 70s revival. The two-minute instrumental that closes the track features a vast array of elements that you could picture any given classic rock band performing. It screams of White Denim’s influences and nods to their roots.
‘Performance’ really gives you everything, including a groove song that you can really get your teeth into. ‘Double Death’ has an opening and guitar solo that would give The Average White Band the chills. Taking a dramatic turn away from the smoothness comes ‘Moves On’, showing a heaviness not yet found on the record. With its Thin Lizzy-esque guitar breakdowns, it is loud and proud. The consistent ride cymbal provides an resilient energy which remains a constant until the track’s final moments.
A poetic side of the band emerges with ‘Sky Beaming’. The lyrics tell one story whilst the guitar and keyboard work in harmony to tell another. Closing track ‘Good News’ is cleaner and simpler than the rest, like the calm final scene of an action-packed movie. Here, the space-like sounds reappear, letting the album have logical structure.
‘Performance’ is a joy from beginning to end. It has personality, depth and just the right about of 70s vibes to make us wish we were born a lot earlier. Overall, the album showcases cleverly constructed compositions that highlight the marvellous musicianship of White Denim.