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White Denim - Performance (Album Review)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Pooneh Ghana

The late summer bank holiday is gone and the leaves are beginning to brown. It’s a time for reflection and calmness before we drag ourselves into the long autumnal evening.

Perhaps White Denim didn’t get the memo. The Texan four-piece’s new record is a ballsy leap into retro vigour, where tracks whirr and pout with a distinctive, polished ‘70s flavour. It's a sound that the band have honed over eight albums, and which may have peaked with this latest offering.

Standout tracks include It Might Get Dark, which carries a Bolan-eque strut amid elegantly arranged dual acoustic and electric guitars. This track demonstrates the excellent - if shamelessly derivative - compositional style of lead songwriter James Petralli.

Elsewhere, the drudgy galloping of Moves On recalls a less shambolic Thin Lizzy, with fuzzy, intricate power chords and elaborate rhythmic switcheroos. It suggests a band intent on updating and re-living the sonic output of heroes who may have died too soon.

Another fine moment comes on the open-hearted closer, Good News. It has a wistful, heightened musicality that is broken up wonderfully by a slurred middle section. Along with Sky Beaming, it enriches an album otherwise occupied by scratchy, dry production.

Such dryness comes from minimised reverb and double tracked vocals, which in turn give the music a boxy sound. The sound was deployed most effectively by Tony Visconti on David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and numerous releases by T-Rex. It's a prestige touch that suggests many, many hours of musical exploration by its creators.

In many ways, the consistency of the sound - despite highly varied songwriting - is the best thing about ‘Performance’. The band have refined and deployed an album that feels vintage despite being ersatz; it pays homage to and resurrects semi-forgotten bands with great love and intelligence. If there is a major criticism, it is that a well curated playlist might do the same job, but that feels unfair given the quality of the craft on show.

White Denim Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed August 29 2018 - LONDON Moth Club
Sat February 09 2019 - BELFAST Limelight 2
Sun February 10 2019 - DUBLIN Whelans
Tue February 12 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Wed February 13 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri February 15 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sat February 16 2019 - NEWCASTLE Northumbria Institute
Sun February 17 2019 - GLASGOW SWG3 TV Studio
Tue February 19 2019 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Wed February 20 2019 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Fri February 22 2019 - LONDON Roundhouse

Click here to compare & buy White Denim Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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