Review: White Denim's 'Stiff'

Category:  The Arts
Friday, April 1st, 2016 at 11:09 AM
Review: White Denim's 'Stiff' by Britton Rozzelle

Austin’s seminal soul-infused rock band White Denim has finally released their new album “Stiff,” a joy-filled, jubilant continuation to 2013’s “Corsicana Lemonade.”

The album feels very familiar, with immediate connections to their previous albums. Having known them since around 2010, it’s certainly interesting to see how the band has evolved and honed their decisively unique style of rock music.

The album’s opener, “Had 2 Know (personal),” is an energetic welcome mat for the rest of the tracks—presenting high-energy guitar work and a fun range of vocals that keeps one interested in the song until the end.

“Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)” isn’t as strong as the opener, but does its job bridging the gap into “Holda You (I’m Psycho),” a particularly good track that manages to blend the band’s style from 2010’s “Last Day of Summer,” and their newer song-writing sensibilities with strong hooks, verses, and choruses.

The next song, “There’s a Brain in my Head,” is my least favorite piece on the whole album. Compared to other songs, it’s a bit boring and predictable, and feels entirely unnecessary. Juxtaposed to that is my personal favorite track on the album, “Take It Easy (Ever Lasting Love),” that shows the band has made great strides towards honing their soul-sound, recalling the power behind Motown records acts from the 60’s.

“(I’m the one) Big Big Fun” steps out of the shadow of “Take It Easy” with an impeccable rhythm and a playful tone that proves to be an incredibly fun listen.

“Real Deal Momma” harkens back to the dawn of Rock and Roll with simple chords and powerful vocals, and ultimately feels like something that would have been playing on a jukebox at your local soda fountain in the 50’s. “Mirrored in Reverse” is overall a safe track that fails to stand out at the end of the day despite a relatively unique solo about halfway through, but doesn’t feel as out of place or off as “There’s a Brain in my Head” did.

The final track, “Thank You,” is also on the list for this album’s best, providing listeners with jaunty, almost jazz-inspired guitar and drumwork and hushed vocals that are a perfect way to round out this energetic and powerful album.

Overall, “Stiff” is a strong album, specifically in the discography of White Denim, but I’m not positive it’s the album for everyone. The songs that work like “Take it Easy” and “Big Big Fun” really work, and are a blast to listen to, but many tracks in-between seem like filler and don’t inspire any meaningful reaction. Still, “Stiff” would be a perfect fit for lovers of rock, soul, and even modern jazz. 

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