White Denim: Stiff

review denim x1 cong

This is such a good album it’s almost a triviality having to write anything. “It’s really good, buy it”, is about the sum of it.

The name White Denim is a bad one for a band that plays such lush, classic rock, and the sleeve is pretty dire. Instead of the lairy indie rock you’d expect from the name, it’s immaculately arrange psychedelic funky rock, a kind of Humble Pie meets Kings of Leon by way of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zep (they nick a couple of beats from the Zep). It’s like they want to underplay how good they are.

Opener Had2Know (Personal) is a slightly over-the-top (in a good way) monster, into which they lob their entire arsenal: madcap intro settles down to a chorus with a southern boogie feel and lashings of solo guitar. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) — they like brackets in song titles — is a looser bluesy tune that lifts a beat from Zep (Immigrant Song) for the chorus. Holda You (I’m Psycho) is back to southern boogie, opening with what are probably twin flying Vs, and There’s a Brain in My Head is again bluesier, with a Beatles-ish feel to it. Real Deal Momma follows a Bonhamesque opening drum pattern with a Crosby, Stills and Nash psychedelic section before becoming a tight blues song.

In between all the bluster and boogie there are slower numbers: Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love) is slower and soulful (Isley Brothers, maybe).

It is good — it’s classic vintage rock — but it’s also got the subtlety of a brick between the eyes, and the lack of subtlety perhaps explains the terrible sleeve as well. It’s a rock album that will dazzle with its technical mastery but perhaps one you’ll admire but never love.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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