Review : The Whigs - Enjoy the Company
PopmattersIf you looked at the flip side of the jewel case for this Athens, Georgia group’s fourth CD, Enjoy the Company, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the entire thing was one big throwback. “Staying Alive”, the opening cut and longest track clocking in at more than eight minutes, might make you think of a certain Bee Gees mega hit. “Thank You” might have you recalling Led Zeppelin’s second album. There’s also a song called “Rock and Roll Forever”, which is a song about, yes, playing rock music, which recalls the work of many rock bands/musicians that sung about rock or being in rock bands, such as Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, AC/DC and the Ramones. And when you finally put the disc in your player and hear those opening notes to “Staying Alive”, with its stick-in-your-head melody, rolling guitars and jittery saxophone, you might be forgiven for feeling the song was a cover by some long-lost and forgotten ‘70s AM radio band. For some reason, I think about Pilot’s one mid-‘70s hit “Magic” when hearing “Staying Alive”, though the melodies are quite a bit dissimilar. But a similar radio-polished vibe is definitely there. Shrug. Maybe it’s just me.
All in all, Enjoy the Company is one big rock and roll party, partially cribbing from the sounds of yesterday while sounding remarkably contemporary – the whole thing sounds a little Foo Fighters-ish to these ears. Part of the latter might be because lauded pseudo-indie producer John Agnello has a hand in the proceedings, as he did on records for the likes of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers. That is part of Enjoy the Company’s appeal. It sounds like something from a variety of eras, and some credit must be given where credit is due. The songs themselves are actually pretty on the spot, for the most part. There’s nothing here that’s going to alight the rock and roll world afire, but the 10 tracks that bulk up Enjoy the Company are generally pretty melodically tornado-proof, even if they may also be a tad bit inconsequential, if not silly. For instance, first single “Summer Heat” is simply about a friend who gets incarcerated over the triviality of an unpaid speeding ticket after being thrown out of a bar. Hardly the stuff that makes for sterling rock songs, per se, but it is catchy enough in its own way if you don’t pay much scrutiny to the song’s origins. In fact, you might find yourself pumping your fist in the air to it, which is pretty much the sole utility to the piece in question. Which is, of course, not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all....full text
ConsequenceofsoundThe story of The Whigs goes something like this: Three aspiring rockers out of the University of Georgia formed a band that emerged in the mid-aughts with their sophomore LP, Mission Control, which provided Dandy Warhols fans a safe alternative for their it’s-five-o’clock-on-a-sunny-Friday, downtown, happy hour rawk fixes. Then, they lost a primary co-songwriter in Hank Sullivant to a little up-and-coming group called MGMT, and with one disappointing effort in 2010’s In the Dark, all that hype began to dwindle.
Their fourth LP, Enjoy the Company, reveals a band who has regained some confidence in what they do best, with predictably mixed results. Roughly half of Enjoy consists of cuts that should work very well from the outdoor festival stage — they’re reasonably thoughtful, and, even better, a refreshing take on the Southern-tinged garage rock sub-genre that their former tour-mates Kings of Leon have been steadily debasing since “Use Somebody”. The other songs are convenient for the necessary port-a-potty and beer tent runs designated for those times in a rock set that there’s just no reason to be present for.
Like many successful comeback records, Enjoy declares itself as such from its very first notes. “Staying Alive” is quite possibly the band’s best song to date, and manages to use each of its euphoric, drum smashin’, guitar shreddin’, horn blarin’ eight minutes and change to gradually climb to a dazzling release without feeling unnecessarily prolonged. Second-half highlight “Couple of Kids” is the flip-side to that: a stagnant, low-key drum-and-bass groove that frontman Parker Gispert uses to repeatedly remind us that he and his significant other are still just a “coupla kids, baby, coupla kids”....full text
AllmusicA common complaint leveled against Athens, Georgia trio the Whigs is that they've been too stuck in the past, determined to re-create the glory days of grunge. They do their best to shake off these criticisms on their fourth album Enjoy the Company, leaving behind heavy, churning riffs in favor of bright, effervescent guitar pop that places melody front and center. By embracing such clear-eyed pop and spiking their hooks with horns -- they're there on the opening "Staying Alive," goosing the chorus to greater heights -- they're inviting comparisons with Spoon, and they come out quite favorably. Whenever they leaned too heavily on their guitars, the Whigs seemed slightly desperate, but by toning the volume down and lying back, they seem comfortable throughout Enjoy the Company. Certainly, this is adult alternative pop, both in its subject and tenor, but that's the appealing thing about it: the Whigs have zeroed in on their strengths and wound up with a rich, layered pop album that suggests a long, interesting future....full text
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