With a familiar sound that has evidently emerged from the long cast shadows of MGMT, the debut album from LA’s latest hype band White Arrows is a short, nostalgic work that pays homage to a number of modern musical greats while trying to infuse the signature sound of each.
Much has been made in the blogosphere of lead singer Mickey Church’s childhood blindness, and the ‘impressionistic’ perception of the world that this disability allegedly bred. The album, Dry Land Is Not A Myth, comes with a sound that has allegedly been branded ‘psychotropical pop’ by some and described as ‘Paul Simon in space’ by others – what this is meant to mean I am unsure, but the consensus seems to be that the music within is intended to be an ethereal blend of surf sounds and pop friendly harmony, with a good dose of synthesiser thrown in for good measure, as well as dancefloor appeal.
But for me, the aural nods to acts as vast and varied as Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip and Passion Pit creates a kind of musical inconsistency, and a muddled first work that doesn’t really seem to know in which way it wants to lean. Whilst some may classify this as indicative of a broad ranging tastes (which may very well be true), this album seems to suggest that rather than encapsulating one musical influence really really well, White Arrows are instead doing a decent, sufficient job of imitating a few, instead of creating that fusion of genres that they seem to be aiming for.
Still, by no means is this album bad. It is worth keep in mind that if you are trying to emulate other acts, at least make them good ones – and the influences upon this work couldn’t be of a higher pedigree. I mentioned Hot Chip, as their influence on the disco friendly Coming or Going is clearly demonstrated in both band’s favour, and is my personal pick for best in show.
Lead single Roll Forever, however, is a completely different concept entirely; it holds true to the ethereal image the band is trying to portray with its airy vocals, but is coupled with subdued grime in its guitar sounds. Other stand outs include second track Get Gone, with its catchy chorus purpose built for the festival season; Golden, with its generous lashings of xylophone tinkle (what’s not to like there?) and the gorgeously melodic Sail On, which is just begging to played while reminiscing on a warm Sunday afternoon.
But if you are looking for a definitive idea of White Arrows are about, think of this debut album as a starting block for a fresh new band with obvious talent, who are just beginning to find their musical feet. Following in this vein, Dry Land Is Not A Myth it is perhaps best considered as merely a precursor to an inevitable progression, and metaphorically as that taste of summer warmth in the air that arrives just before the winter has truly left – something that is enticing in its promise of things to come, but something that is not quite tangible yet.
Dry Land is Not a Myth is available now at all good record stores.