Whitehorse: The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss
Upon hearing the first song from Whitehorse‘s newest release, The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss, my friend exclaimed, “What are they, a Clint Eastwood cover band?” The husband-and-wife pair’s Western influence is obvious throughout the twelve tracks, creating a unique and sometimes surreal sound fitting for both a night at the saloon and a relaxed listening in a car.
The album starts off strongly with the stomper “Achilles’ Desire.” The snarling guitar gives way to vocals amplified by way of a telephone receiver––one of the many head-turning techniques used by the band in their music. Luke Doucet’s vocals are akin to those of Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys but with a smoothness and fluidity uncommon to Whitehorse’s style of folk. The other half of the band, Melissa McClelland, reminds the listener of a strange cross between Adele, Brody Dalle, and Amy Winehouse, combined with the slightest hint of a twang. While their simultaneous singing sounds fine, it’s the contrast in the individual voices that makes each one shine.
Whitehorse introduce several styles in the album that can make it seem as if they are experimenting––although they are a band who thinks outside the box. The upbeat “Devil’s Got A Gun” begins with a Rolling Stones-flavored curlicue guitar riff that leads into a bluesy verse with conga-like drums in the background. The almost Coldplay-tinged “Cold July” (no pun intended) floats by as a ballad, while “Radiator Blues” bounces like a Dave Matthews tune both vocally and instrumentally. A live video of “No Glamour In The Hammer” reveals the song’s complexity, showing both musicians operating a looper to create the multi-instrument landscape over which the melody plays.
For a two-piece, the tunes are big, echoing and reverberating so that the instruments seamlessly blend into one another. Originality and grand scope are the duo’s strongest qualities, writing satisfyingly full arrangements that occasionally require one or both of them to play more than one instrument or make use of effects. However, this requires experimentation, as previously mentioned, and not without failure. The country-influenced “Peterbilt Coalmine” isn’t the pair’s strongest offering, and the cliched “Out Like A Lion” is rather forgettable. For the most part, though, Whitehorse have brought out a solid album of bluesy folk songs with some tweaks that are like Twilight––you either love it or you hate it.
The band truly showcases their talent live. The fact that they have managed to play all instruments and keep the lineup to only them speaks volumes about their creativity and artistic drive. Their mantra seems to be the paradoxical one of simple complexity, and this is displayed in their music. The songs might not sate everyone’s auditory hunger, but the listener has to admire the effort put into them. Whitehorse are truly an oddly named band with an odd sound, and they’ve proven this can be a winning combo.
MP3: Whitehorse “Devil’s Got A Gun”