Last years Workout Holiday from Austin Texas trio White Denim was a high energy punk rock debut, and its raw garage sound not only stood out but stood up, in a year which from a critic’s point of view was dominated by more experimental and folksy records. These guys certainly haven’t wasted any time in getting back to their caravan studio (yes, they rehearse and record in drummer Josh Blocks 40ft caravan) to provide us with more power punk, as sophomore album Fits is released almost one year to the day (unheard of in today’s world) after their debut.
Not only is Fits testimony that Workout Holiday was no accident, but it’s proof that White Denim are much more than the sum of the garage rock parts as, as the record progresses, they slowly shed the DIY sound of Workout Holiday and step into jazz rock and blue eyed soul territory with confidence and grace.
Fits is still a predominantly rock record, with a first half full of glorious riffs and with nods to both Gang of Four on -I start to Run’ and Led Zeppelin on -Say What You Want’, but it’s the second half of the record where they flex their newly developed jazz, soul and psychedelic muscles. Firstly there’s track 6, -Sex Prayer’, a psychedelic instrumental, not a highlight but sign of things to come. -Mirrored and Reverse’ is a more successful jazz/rock/psychedelic hybrid with a glorious guitar centrepiece by vocalist/guitarist James Petralli. -Paint Yourself’ and -I’d Have It Just the Way We Were’ are soulful summery delights complete with romantic falsetto vocals and jazzy drumming, they’re what you’d call -The Songs’ on they album, as is -Everybody Somebody’, an ode to Hall & Oats, a bad thing? Think again, it’s bloody brilliant.
Fits buckles only once on -El Hard Attack DCWYW’, but it’s purely under the weight of its own extraordinary musicianship as all three members clamber for airspace and it’s all bit too much, but for 11 of the 12 tracks on Fits, all their talents support each other magically.
I liked Workout Holiday an awful lot for giving me a good throwaway rock record to drive to in 2008, but by summoning the energy and drive of its predecessor, and adding further influence and creativity, White Denim, with Fits, have delivered a truly lasting record.