Review : White Rabbits - It's Frightening
SlantmagazineIt's Frightening is an album rife with eager paranoia, its mad creators fervently awaiting the moment when its fear, angst, and other assorted neuroses might bubble over into listeners' unsuspecting ears. Said moments come soon and often, as opening track "Percussion Gun" takes little time to burst into a chorus of ghastly laughs and shattering drum blows. For critics and fans alike, it might be difficult to accept that such music makes up a large part of the sophomore effort of New York sextet White Rabbits, whose scrappy 2007 debut Fort Nightly owed more to the sunny ethno-rock of Vampire Weekend than, say, the gritty mania of Portland's 31Knots. Still, the band remains undaunted in their newly-chosen somber scenery, abandoning the easy and unpolished indie sound that served as the foundation for Fort Nightly in favor of a more disparate minimalism that smacks of Radiohead's In Rainbows.
The brooding turn is certainly not the most creative of musical decisions: Highly focused and single-minded, It's Frightening rarely strays from a three-part formula of incessant lockstep percussion, half-muttered nasal phrases, and bleeding melodies. Pounding or clicking its way through every track, the album is essentially a rhythmic journey, interested more in gait than timbre. Likewise, the songs are mere patches of sound—composites of unfinished ideas and incomplete melodies with various accompaniments seemingly thrown in for no other reason than to break up the monotony. Defining piece "They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong" is held together not by bridges or key changes, but percussive interludes, the soft piano and guitar flutters meant to complement rather than control the snapping beat. Ditto the stammering, sputtering "Company I Keep," whose cracks and shakes continually steal the spotlight from its wonderfully lazy acoustics. Even when White Rabbits attempts a respectful nod to the cheeky exhibition of Fort Nightly, as with "Midnight and I," the result is ultimately a cadence-heavy venture, spiraling, whispering, and then flaming out with nary a memorable moment....full text
HearyaI love Spoon so when word leaked that their frontman, Brit Daniel, was going to be producing the follow up to the White Rabbits stellar debut, I got more than a little geeked up. For my money Spoon is the most consistent, if not the best, American indie band going right now. As for the Rabbits, Fort Nightly registered as one of the more exciting records of 2007, uniquely flavored by its steamrolling and varied percussion, charged piano and terrifically ragged lead vocals. The Rabbits perfectly wove all of these elements together to create a great record with a charming recklessness that seemed to offer up some punk characteristics.
Their new album is due out in mid-May and after one listen, it’s obvious that any review of It’s Frightening will not do it justice without acknowledging the influence that Daniel has had in the studio. In fact, go no farther than the third song, “They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong” and you quickly recognize that it easily could have been lifted off Girls Can Tell. The Spoon recipe is wonderfully simple and stripped down to feature jagged guitar riffs that seemingly stab at you from every direction, paired with drums pushed forward, solid keyboards and the tremendous vocals of Daniel. And it is all here on this record, absent Daniel’s vocals of course....full text
PrefixmagWhite Rabbits have friends in high places. After befriending and touring with the Walkmen last year, the group has scored a small coup by bringing in Spoon's Britt Daniel to produce its sophomore effort. It's Daniel's first stab at producing another band's music.
Of course, that big name behind the boards threatens to obscure the work of the band in front of the curtain. There's six of these dudes, including two drummers, which means they can conjure up an unholy racket if the song calls for it. But to hear singer/pianist Stephen Patterson describe it, It's Frightening is an album built on harnessing that power instead of shooting for overkill.
"After playing that last record live for two years, I got kind of sick of realizing all six dudes were just playing as loud as they possibly could, all the time, the entire set," Patterson told Paste Magazine in a recent interview . "We tried to give things some more space this time."...full text
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