By Ellen Eldridge
Though I barely remember 2009, I remember reviewing White Rabbits’ sophomore release It’s Frightening, which was produced by Britt Daniel of Spoon and earned the band comparisons to Spoon. The punchy and chaotic opening of “Percussion Gun” convinced me to jump out of bed, guzzle my coffee and drive to work impassioned with my life. Well, perhaps that’s a bit overstated, but the vibe really jolted me into action. While remaining unrelentingly attention-commanding, Milk Famous, produced by Spoon producer Mike McCarthy, also maintains its melody. The unnerving repetition of melody in “Heavy Metal” feels cauterized by squealing guitar that jumps out from behind the door. The video shows the disparate ideas between the song’s title and the family seen going through the motions of life in the video – set to a song that would not be considered “metal” by fans of the genre. The juxtaposition is what makes the video and song great. The fact that “Heavy Metal” opens the album does immediately bring fans of It’s Frightening down a notch from the caffeine jolt and replaced it instead with an air of unease. The whole album feels like a waiting room without knowing what the listener is waiting for.
The second track, “I’m Not Me,” continues with a psychedelic feel patterned against scraping guitars. “Temporary” feels a bit ‘80s-inspired in that it recalls images of roller skating to music to mind with the mix of keyboards and high-pitched vocals. Throughout Milk Famous, presentation of the lyrics generally acts as the mediator between the rhythm and the melody. The repeated title to “I Had It Coming,” the closing track on Milk Famous, rounds out the album with an air of purgatory hanging in the line, “I surrender without sound” followed by the band’s now characteristic pulsing static, and the sentiment leaves the listener eager for the next White Rabbits release. I went back to listen to It’s Frightening and decided that Milk Famous feels more tame, but the key to White Rabbits’ success lies in the exchange between percussion and melodic aspects.
White Rabbits play Black Cat on March 7.