Album Review: Whirr-Around

whirrWhirr are lumped into that genre we Generation X oldsters affectionately call “shoegaze”. And while some of my favorite music is lumped into this category, I have to say it’s getting used way too much. It’s become this generic term used to describe anyone that looks at the floor more than ten seconds in order to engage some swishing, whirly guitar effect, or sings with a hefty amount of reverb on their vocals.

This is wrong. This is lazy. This will not be tolerated anymore.

These are the same folks that call Mumford and Sons “indie”. Sure, so were Dexy’s Midnight Runners considered college rock? Come on, people. It’s time to put your music label maker away and actually listen to the music coming out of the speakers(or earbuds, or whatever). Whirr is a band that has been known to stomp on a swishy, whirly pedal or two. And, there is ample amount of reverb layered on top of those boy/girl vocal swirls. But they are so much more than a “shoegazer” band. Around, in its mere four songs and just under 28 minutes proves that.

If I had to sum up Around in one word I’d have to say mournful. “Drain” is like a funeral procession making its way through the tracks 8 minute length. A mixture of slowcore grind and 4AD gothic beauty, its as if Low discovered Bauhaus’ In The Flat Field and had some sort of tortured spiritual awakening. The song’s momentum never gets above a downtrodden march through muddy fields, yet the vocals somehow bring a certain distant sunlight to the proceedings. This is not your momma’s shoegaze. This is gothic rock at its finest. Robert Smith weeps somewhere for his integrity. “Swoon” continues this new path of shaded enlightenment that Whirr have begun. This song is heavy without being…well, heavy. It’s heavy in its overall depth of sound. Guitars are cranky and noisy, without shoving it in your face. It’s an all-encompassing sound. It envelopes you. On previous albums, such as the Distressor EP and their first full-length Pipe Dreams Whirr hinted at this sound, all the while showing some punk roots in the occasional blast of grizzled energy. But now with Around, Whirr sound like a band with six members. They sound huge, and it’s a strangely beautiful thing.  Like a funeral by candlelight. This is the first time with Whirr where I can hear Nick Bassett’s former band Deafheaven in the sound of Whirr. Like Deafheaven(especially this year’s excellent Sunbather), Whirr create this chaotically beautiful world on their records. One where the starstruck lovers end up together, but die in a fiery car crash. But they die together. “Keep” and “Around” finish this four song mini-epic as if transmitting from a cavern miles into the earth. The bombast reigned in for a more dreamy finale.

If you’re looking for something jumpy, peppy…something to get you going in the morning, then check the Warped Tour roster. This is for serious music listening only. It’s dark, mournful, dreamy, and quite often a beautiful little masterpiece. Gaze at your shoes if you must.  Whirr is looking you straight in the eyes this time.

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