You gotta love the Whigs. They’re like The Little Train That Not Only Could, But Would – And Takes The Door Off The Goddamn Hinges In The Process. They may only be a three-piecer, but they do a lot with those three-pieces on their latest release, In The Dark.
Go ahead – pick a track. How about, say, “Kill Me Carolyne.” All power and wallop and snap and snarl, this is what the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks album would’ve sounded like if they’d actually given a shit. Or lift the arm up and drop the needle somewhere else – try “Automatic,” for instance. While the verses are chock full of barely-contained crackle, the choruses gush with a poppy lushness like a long-lost New Radicals single … it shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does.
Three different producers had a hand in putting In The Dark together, but they all appear to have embraced the same approach – no tricks; no gimmicks; let the band speak for itself. And speak it does: bassist Tim Deaux and drummer Julian Dorio provide a thick-sounding rhythm mattress for guitarist/lead vocalist Parker Gispert’s roamings. Sometimes Gispert comes out of the hole just a’blazing (“So Lonely”’s churning ache). Now and then he simply adds a layer of texture to Deaux and Dorio’s rumblewomp (the U2-meets-Talking-Heads psycho-march of “Hundred/Million”). And then there are the times when he stalks the perimeter of the song, darting in long enough to fire off a few bursts of guitar crunch, then retreating to the shadows to reload (“I Am For Real” or the vapory album-closing “Naked”).
Chock full of emotion and sneaky hooks that grab you from nowhere, In The Dark is the work of a small band with a big sound that has more to do with depth and dynamics than sheer volume.
Of course, there’s some of that, too.