Hey you! Yes I’m talking to you. It’s time to get off your ass and start doing your weekend chores. Those jeans won’t fold themselves you know. I know, it’s a drab and there are better things to do. Alright, first read this then and get ready for some ass kicking!
In 2016 I was heavily intrigued by White Denim’s thorny 2016 album cover but never got around to fully appreciate the soulful content of Stiff (2016). Now, two years later, White Denim returns with their seventh studio album that yet again is full of up-tempo rock’n’roll.
Bandleaders James Petralli, we also know from The Echocentrics, and Steve Terebecki took care of the production in their new studio in downtown Austin. Therefore is no surprise that Performance a patchwork of all sort of music styles and should be roughly pinned down somewhere between a southern sort of glam rock, garage rock, jazz drumming and blues.
Performance starts with a Black Key’s-like fast and loose rock-strut that’s supported by a few sleazy saxophones on ‘Magazine’. Hereafter the gear is shifted upwards by the hooky uptempo title track ‘Performance’. This song sounds like a mashup of the early work of Vampire Weekend and Born Ruffians in which White Denim cleverly blends traditional rock and roll with avant-garde varieties without taking themselves too terribly serious. The notes on Performance’s press release stated: “they write songs just dumb enough to drink, dance, and fight to”, and well, they indeed live up to that outtake on these opening tracks and the other seven tracks of the album.
‘Moves On’ feels like some good old fashioned 70ties psychedelic rock. Yet again a few surprising free guitar hooks give the song that exciting edge. However the true highlight here is the killing synthesizer solo that takes over from the midway point. On ‘It Might Get Dark’ some glam is pulled out of the grab bag. As Petralli, sings “Do the loose boogie, lock your keys in the car” guitars keep swirling and dueling around him. A burst of energy is also heard near the end of the album. On ‘Backseat Driver’ some light guitar play, pitter-patter drumming and a wonderful groovy organ make this track just plain fun to listen, or dance if you will, to.
Performance is the band’s most focused work to date which when it comes to its play time. Much of the work clocks around 35 to 40 minutes. This one however drops below the 35 minute mark and only 32 and a half minutes to complete. That’s just long enough to complete one of those dull tasks in or around the house. Whether that’s cleaning the litter box, doing the laundry or mowing the lawn, White Denim is there to kick your ass and get you out of that unnecessary habitual delaying mode.
Performance is a great addition to the already great albums the band have released over time. I can’t wait to see them live one day and if I do, I’ll be be sure to wear those white jeans I just folded so nicely.
Label: City Slang, 2018
- Magazin (3:38)
- Performance (2:25)
- Fine Slime (4:45)
- Double Death (3:27)
- Moves On (3:52)
- It Might Get Dark (3:36)
- Sky Beaming (3:18)
- Backseat Driver (3:16)
- Good News (4:21)
White Denim on Twitter
Review by Wander Meulemans // 310818