Review Summary: Great hooks, fantastic melodies, superb use of percussion and rhythm, what's not to love?... the fact that it's just a bit too similar to it's most notable predecessor. And when I say "a bit," I mean a lot.
White Rabbits are an emerging indie-rock band with a leg-up on the competition. No, they haven’t bribed the staff of Sputnikmusic.com to write them a myriad of reviews all rated “5,” but they do have something quite valuable- connections. White Rabbits are apparently pretty tight with arguably one of the most consistent American indie-rock acts in recent memory- Spoon. Naturally, Spoon’s Brit Daniel’s felt obliged to take his proteges under his wing and produce their sophomore record. Sound interesting? That’s what I thought. Give this a listen and you may end up being surprised, though. What could have been their greatest strength also turns into their most apparent weakness.
Anyway, let’s concentrate on the “sound” here first. White Rabbits must have remembered to bring all their instruments to the studio, because there seems to be a bit of a surplus on It’s Frightening
. Trash cans, tambourines, bass, there’s no lack of percussion for this double-drummer band. On the other hand, White Rabbits make a smart move and never stray too far from their base of piano-driven melodies. The hooks are pretty hit-or-miss. Some, “Company I Keep”, are downright catchy, lovable and genuine, and others, “The Lady Vanishes”, are stale and uninspired. It’s Frightening
finds White Rabbits beginning to inherit Spoon’s uncanny ability for great rhythm (but not soul, sadly). Does this still sound like an advantage? Perhaps, we’ll address that later.
The lyrics aren’t atrocious, but once again, I find little to say about them. They become forgettable, second-string to the melodies and hooks that White Rabbits and Brit Daniels were able to concoct. Fittingly, the same can be said for Stephen Patterson’s vocals. By the time closer “Leave It At the Door” arrives, he sounds bored and weary, like he wishes he hadn’t made his whole record sound like a Spoon B-Side album.
The successes on It’s Frightening
are subtle, but present. No song quite deserves the label, “standout,” but “Lioness” and “Right Where They Left” are the most satisfying. Both these songs find the aforementioned rhythm working well and finding a good connection with Patterson’s passionate vocals, which leaves much to be desired at other points on It’s Frightening
. In a way the lack of a clear standout may be for the best. There’s a slim chance follow similar clean-cut indie-rock acts into the arena of “car-commercial” stardom” per-say, where everyone and their little sister have that song downloaded on Itunes right next to The Pussycat Dolls.
But I digress, the opener, “Percussion Gun”, of course, is a perfect example of White Rabbits’ use of two drummers. The bouncing “They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong” and the swinging “Rudie Fails” feel as if they would have fit in perfectly on White Rabbit’s previous, Girls Can Tell
... oh wait.
Which leads me to the most outstanding downfall on It’s Frightening
. If I had to choose one word to describe the album, it may be “unimaginative.” Most songs don’t avoid the pitfall of sounding like less passionate Spoon rip-offs. Don’t get me wrong, when standing alone the songs are solid, but I can’t help but compare them to their oh-so-similar predecessors. I feel like Brit Daniels may have had a little too much to do with It’s Frightening
Left to their own devices, White Rabbits may have created a better, more original album, but it’s hard to say. While It’s Frightening
definitely has replay value, I just don’t see myself choosing this over Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
or Kill The Moonlight
. That being said, I anticipate their next album with some enthusiasm. On second thought, I think I’d like to change my chosen word to sum up the album. I think “potential” is more fitting.
Right Where They Left
Company I Keep