Words About Music
One of the most easily hateable bands of the past year isn’t one that you’d expect. Shoegaze is a relatively relaxed and calming genre that tends to be peppered with moments of chaos and noise. It’s what I love about the genre, and there have been some great shoegaze records to come out this year, specifically the latest Alcest record and Nothing’s debut “Guilty of Everything,” (though I have grown a bit less fond of the latter as the year has progressed). Enter: Whirr. Whirr is a band led by former Deafheaven bassist Nick Bassett, who is also touring as the bass player for the aforementioned Nothing. Whirr debuted back in 2012 with a relatively low-key and well-liked album “Pipe Dreams.” One EP and two years later and they’re considered a despicable bunch of obnoxious internet trolls, for lack of a better word. They’re notorious for picking on Facebook fans that choose to dissent their public beliefs, often taking to calling them outdated pejoratives like “pussies” and “retards.” They lashed out at music blog Pitchfork for their decently positive reviews (but not positive enough) of “Guilty of Everything” as well as this album, “Sway.” Immature and douchey indeed, but that’s not what I’m here to review. “Sway” is Whirr’s second full length, and it’s a shoegaze album.
The first thing I noticed about “Sway” is that it’s noticeably short. 8 songs that barely clock in at 36 minutes (though that’s hardly much shorter than “Pipe Dreams” was). I hoped that Whirr would make the most of it, and for the most part they did. For the most part, this album is a very decent one. The guitars and drums work together in perfect harmony, with the vocals coming in at a just barely audible volume, which is fine and intentional. There’s moments of serene calm was well as enveloping passion that make many parts of “Sway” feel really awesome and beautiful. Some of those moments are short-lived however.
The biggest problem with “Sway” is that it doesn’t really feel like an album. Sure, it’s very cohesive and the band is good at sticking with their sound, but it ends on such an abrupt note that it feels very incomplete and almost phoned in. One or two more songs could have made this feel whole, with maybe a post-rock-ish climax towards the end. I’m not saying it would’ve made “Sway” sound like the most original, thought-provoking album in the world, because it’s not nor does it try to be, but it would at least give the album a bit of finesse.
“Sway” starts out and remains strong for a little more than half the album, but then it sort of tapers off and fades into the back of my mind. Shoegaze isn’t an album that commands your attention really, but it’s also not supposed to make you ask yourself: “Wait, how long ago did the album end?” I do like Whirr strictly as a musical project and I think “Sway” is a good album, but it’s not one I’m going to remember years down the line. If you are a shoegaze aficionado and you don’t know this band, though, I would definitely recommend it.
SCORE – 7.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Press, Dry, Clear, Heavy, Sway