Cum On, Feel The White Noize
It’s weird to think that describing a rock band’s sound as “washed out” was once an insult, a slight meant to harp on the perceived inability of some sound engineer. But, like the word “punk,” the phrase’s corresponding idea got co-opted by a sliver of the music-goers who actually identified with the aesthetic as a unique distinction rather than a deficiency. There’s no “washed out” revival movement, but plenty of contemporary post-punkers like Cults, Turbo Fruits and Yeah Yeah Yeahs graduated summa cum laude from the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Feedback Academy and made ample room for static noise in their respective outpourings. Sporting a guitar tone as dry and fuzzy as fiberglass insulation, White Reaper have arrived with their second full-length to carry the niche’s torch.
The songs of White Reaper Does it Again all have a lot in common: they’re high-energy, garage rock nuggets catchy enough at any given point to appeal to a wider range audience than more aggressive bands like A Place to Bury Strangers. They’re abrasive but inviting, juvenile but refined. The small and personal scope of their lyrics is charming. None of the tunes dare pass the four-minute mark for fear of overstaying their welcome.
But to call Does it Again “no frills” would be wrong. The fairly complex dual harmony guitar lead of “I Don’t Think She Cares” is revelatory, declaring White Reaper’s punky power pop comes glossed with ’80s glam textures and arena rock bravado. Like Sleigh Bells, White Reaper play with the notion of indie rock and hair metal as diametric opposites all while keeping a straight face.
White Reaper aren’t strictly pulling from canonized ’70s groups like New York Dolls and Roxy Music. “Pills” actually sounds like the palm-muted intro of the Cars “Just What I Needed” combined with “Stacy’s Mom,” but a bit rougher around the musical edges. Percussion noise and screeching guitars envelop and enshroud the overproduced arena rock refrain, like the band is covering their tracks and attempting to conceal their appeal. It’s not super indulgent. There’s no fucking clap section, thankfully. “On Your Mind” even sounds like a garage rock cover of “Jesse’s Girl,” albeit one that includes another Thin Lizzy twin guitar lead. White Reaper feature some quick chord articulations for a band that put so much effort into sounding a little sloppy.
On “Sheila” singer Tony Esposito has a surprising range while also sounding like he’s imploring the titular lady to “Let me light your cigarette” at the other end of a giant concrete tube due to all the various reverb and effect filters. He’s got this quality in common with Kevin Starrs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. It’s sneering but playful, like the MC5 mixed with Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance if he had a really bad cold.
White Reaper have created an album that by rights should sound quick and dirty, but paradoxically sounds colossal and nigh pristinely pristine. This album will certainly net fans of old school garage rock as well as disciples of young whippersnappers like Ty Segall, and anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of raw fun now and again. If you decide to listen to this album, though, pause it when you go to the bathroom, because you’ll invariably miss some of White Reaper Does it Again’s choicest cuts.