So, your summer came early.
That’s the silver-lining sentiment that opens this White Denim concept album. The concept: nine tracks resulting from a month-long Covid-19 sequester during which the band wrote and recorded the album.
The fact that World As A Waiting Room roared out of a planned notion to take the group’s coronavirus time, confined to home and studio, and use it to create something new really isn’t all that much of a departure for White Denim under normal circumstances. The development of their own Austin studio and attendant record label was for exactly this reason: to put out music how and when the band wanted. So, a 30-day, soup to nuts sprint to deliver a new album, regardless of the current calamity, seems almost natural, if not intended, from this quartet.
What colors this effort in contrast to previous releases is an underlying, but pervasive sense of existential angst; combated with familiar breakneck tempos, scalpel-sharp guitars, and colliding eras of ‘70s cool and ‘80s neon siphoned through a beat poet’s megaphone. It opens with the hazy, unsettled view of “I Don’t Understand Rock and Roll,” wakes faithfully with a rooster’s crow on “Work,” and morphs spacey T-Rex into a Beach Boys-like chorus on “Go Numb.” It corrals the programmed, percussive, fever dream camp of “Queen of the Quarantine” with the hard charge of “DVD,” and counters the cacophonic collage that prefaces the progressive new-wave of “Slow Death” with the Lone Star rockapunk of “Eagle Wings.” And still, by the time the record exhales to a close with “King Prospero,” it has the wisdom to summon a reassuring, optimistic peace of mind.
White Denim found motivation in a bleak prescription, stayed at home, and made a great record in the truest definition; one that records the mood of the moment without being restricted to it.