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Whitney - Forever Turned Around (Album Review)

Friday, 13 September 2019 Written by Huw Baines

There are few more grievous insults in music than to describe a record as ‘nice’. It implies a lack of bite, a play-it-safe approach, even a paucity of craft. Whitney’s second LP ‘Forever Turned Around’ is nice, but somehow it manages to be so while just about pushing things forward creatively.

Three years along from the release of the indie-ubiquitous ‘Light Upon the Lake’, the Chicagoans have set aside some of their more extroverted impulses in favour of songs that exist in the corner of a sun-dappled frame. There are moments, notably the opening seconds of Giving Up, that suggest a grit-free, well-behaved Velvet Underground.

That sounds like a knock, but the reality is something different. Midway through Song For Ty, for example, there is a moment when the track's mellifluous hook wraps around a brief injection of horns and a snaking guitar line—it’s absolutely tasteful, but also a head-nodding jam. 

It feels like a very conscious choice by Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich to avoid showy tricks, and the artistic development here is perhaps best characterised as a deeper understanding of when to hold back.

That’s because Whitney’s great taboo-busting move is nothing that would have interested the Velvets—it’s embracing the sleek outer exterior of yacht-rock. Everything about ‘Forever Turned Around’ is meticulously assembled. There isn’t a hair out of place. Even as they threaten a jazzy wig-out on Rhododendron, Whitney instead content themselves with colouring between the lines. It’s both a broadly unadventurous choice and, probably, the correct one. 

A sprawling, self-indulgent instrumental piece at the heart of a record this poised would be unnecessarily destabilising, if somewhat understandable in most instances. Instead, Whitney’s songwriting discipline is remarkable and keeps things on an even keel. It also ensures that any ‘nice’ barbs you might hurl in their direction have the capacity to sting—‘Forever Turned Around’ might display some new moves, but it remains very pretty, beautifully made wallpaper.

Whitney Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri September 13 2019 - AUSTIN Texas - Mohawk - Austin (USA)
Sat September 14 2019 - AUSTIN Texas - Mohawk-Austin (USA)
Sun September 15 2019 - HOUSTON Texas - Satellite Bar (USA)
Tue September 17 2019 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Tipitinas (USA)
Wed September 18 2019 - BIRMINGHAM AL Alabama - Saturn - Birmingham (USA)
Fri September 20 2019 - ATLANTA Georgia - Variety Playhouse (USA)
Sat September 21 2019 - CARRBORO North Carolina - Cat's Cradle (USA)
Sun September 22 2019 - RICHMOND Virginia - National (USA)
Mon September 23 2019 - WASHINGTON District Of Columbia - 9:30 Club (USA)
Thu September 26 2019 - MILLVALE Pennsylvania - Mr Smalls Theater (USA)
Fri September 27 2019 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Union Transfer (USA)
Sun September 29 2019 - SOUTH BURLINGTON Vermont - Higher Ground (USA)
Tue October 01 2019 - PORTSMOUTH VA New Hampshire - 3S Artspace (USA)
Wed October 02 2019 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Royale Boston (USA)
Thu October 03 2019 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Steel (USA)
Fri October 04 2019 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Steel (USA)
Sat October 05 2019 - OMAHA Nebraska - Slowdown (USA)
Thu October 17 2019 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Fri October 18 2019 - MILWAUKEE Wisconsin - Turner Hall Ballroom (USA)
Sat October 19 2019 - OMAHA Nebraska - Slowdown (USA)
Mon October 21 2019 - DENVER Colorado - Ogden Theatre (USA)
Wed October 23 2019 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Metro Music Hall - UT (USA)
Thu October 24 2019 - BOISE Idaho - Knitting Factory Concert House - Boise (USA)
Fri October 25 2019 - SEATTLE Washington - Neptune Theatre (USA)
Sat October 26 2019 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Hollywood Theatre - Vancouver (Canada)
Sun October 27 2019 - PORTLAND Oregon - Revolution Hall - Portland (USA)
Mon October 28 2019 - PORTLAND Oregon - Revolution Hall (USA)
Wed October 30 2019 - CHICO California - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (USA)
Fri November 01 2019 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Warfield (USA)
Sat November 02 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Wiltern (USA)
Sun November 03 2019 - SAN DIEGO California - Observatory - San Diego (USA)
Mon November 04 2019 - SANTA ANA California - Yost Theatre (USA)
Thu December 05 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Fri December 06 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Sat December 07 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Sun December 08 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)

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