White Denim’s first full-length is a package composed of their two self-released EPs that brought them such sudden acclaim, along with some new material. It’s a glorious mess of a record. These songs simply shouldn’t fit together as well as they do, with the knocked-about punk of the opening tracks leading naturally to the melodic soul on display elsewhere: the band don’t care if you’re moving out of pent-up frustration or heartfelt joy, as long as you’re moving.
The mixed palette of styles on display here is intriguing, with White Denim switching smoothly from crafting delicate guitar structures on instrumental tracks like -WDA’ to the exhilarating, soulful group vocals of -Darksided Computer Mouth’. The overall effect matches their DIY ethic, with James Petralli’s vocals, at once impassioned and raw, underlining the simplicity of these songs.
While the noisier tracks make for a fine introduction to the band, it’s the more straightforwardly melodic cuts that shine. Highlight -Don’t Look That Way At It’ melds dreamy guitars with soaring vocals beautifully, while other tracks are put together in an almost cut-up fashion. Their fondness for the bluesy soul of rock -n’ roll’s past is certainly their greatest strength, as shown on the final track -IEIEI’, a psychedelic jam that abruptly trades its electric guitars for acoustics. It’s a fine closer to the album, showing the band’s knack for bringing youthful originality to an old genre. If you don’t mind the mess, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.