“Jack of all trades, master of none” is a phrase that in its modern guise comes free with negative connotations; yet originally it had a far more complimentary tone, the second line of the couplet being “though offtimes better than a master of one.” And here the jack-of-all-trades title should be thrown at White Denim in that more appreciative sense.
They are still an album shy of perfecting their garage rock but it is the versatility of this record that shines through. At first the chopping and changing is slightly overbearing, but you soon settle into the genre skipping and, aided by the healthy production, the transitions soon seem smooth. It is an achievement in itself that the record never sounds disjointed.
Had White Denim sat down to hone their sound and identity, like some of the more manufactured bands bestowed upon our ears, then, such is the eclecticism on show here, they may not have ever got around to making a record at all. Luckily for us they don’t seem to be a band for hanging around. Their sophomore effort, released rapidly by today’s standards, has a distinct stream of consciousness feel to it, as if the spine of the record is pure improvisation, yet the flesh around the bones never once sounds rushed.
With ‘Fits’ they appear to set their stall out early employing everything within their arsenal to blow you away, and the raucous behaviour of opener ‘Radio Milk How Can You Stand It?’ lends no clues about the various directions the remaining eleven tracks will guide you. While appearing most comfortable in a guise not dissimilar to The Stooges in ‘Radio Milk…’ as well as ‘El Hard Attack DCWYW’ and ‘Start To Run’ the band have much more to offer. ‘Mirrored and Reverse’ fades in and out and slithers around the like a small blues explosion played on Bon Jovi’s instruments and the acid jazz of ‘Sex Prayer’ sounds like the point the record company got peeved at the Style Council. ‘Paint Yourself’ begins with a vibe almost reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and ‘Everybody Somebody’ sounds like the darkest depths of American rock covering something off of ‘Pink Flag’. Without wanting to get carried away, there is no low point on this album.
For every bizarre influence plucked from thin air there is a garage rock track for it to battle with and for all the versatility on this LP it is the impressive and familiar core that holds it together. There is plenty to keep happy existing fans and there is even more to grab hold of new ears.
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