Fire Away, Ahab!
Keeping up this decadeâ€šÃ„Ã´s tradition of indie supergroups, Buttergloryâ€šÃ„Ã´s Matt Suggs teams up with former Get Up Kid Robert Hope and members of the Higher Burning Fire to form White Whale. Their name foreshadows an intriguing nautical theme that lyrically permeates their debut album, WWI. Unfortunately, it also presumes certain mythical qualities that the band, despite a valiant effort, canâ€šÃ„Ã´t quite seem to achieve.Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not as if Suggs and company arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t looking in the right places. â€šÃ„ÃºThe Admiralâ€šÃ„Ã¹ begins as a sauntering exercise in vintage Bowie-isms before erupting into an epic choral crescendo worthy of The Arcade Fire, while â€šÃ„ÃºWhatâ€šÃ„Ã´s an Ocean For?â€šÃ„Ã¹ is a galloping, glimmering love letter to Echo & the Bunnymen. Other highlights include â€šÃ„ÃºWeâ€šÃ„Ã´re Just Temporary Maâ€šÃ„Ã´am,â€šÃ„Ã¹ whose jangling take on Americana suggests where Iron & Wine would go if Sam Beam pushed a little harder on the distortion pedals, and the Madchester-meets-Catherine Wheel climax of â€šÃ„ÃºForgive the Forgiven.â€šÃ„Ã¹
The problem with WWI is that these moments never amount to more than that: moments that keep listeners interested but not satisfied. Too often, the echoes of White Whaleâ€šÃ„Ã´s influences drown them out. â€šÃ„ÃºFidget and Fudgeâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is pure Pink Floyd filler, and â€šÃ„ÃºI Love Lovely Chinese Girlâ€šÃ„Ã¹ only proves that the Bowie sword can cut both ways. Meanwhile, tracks like British Sea Power-esque â€šÃ„ÃºNine Good Fingersâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºYummyman Farewellâ€šÃ„Ã¹ donâ€šÃ„Ã´t rock nearly as hard as the band seems to think they do, implying that influences aside, White Whale may not have anything interesting to say.
But thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s a debate for album two, and thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s certainly enough mild promise to justify an album two. White Whale just need to lift anchor and set sail with a little less pretension. Right now, theyâ€šÃ„Ã´re idling in the shallows.