Whitney – Light Upon The Lake Album Review
In my view, a good album review can’t come after one listen. In fact, I think it takes many listens to have a shot at deciphering artistic intent. How can you react to something that took years, if not a lifetime, to create after a few spins? At Mighty Records, we try to do things differently. So, rather than jockeying for internet eyes when an album first drops, we’re gonna give it some time. As Donald Glover once said, “Go on, and let it ruminate.”
The first album to get a “lived-with album review” is Whitney’s debut record, Light Upon the Lake. LUTL came out on June 3rd. I’ve listened to this album riding transit, walking, biking, and on a road trip. I’ve listened to it on the move. I’ve also listened to it while stationary. In my bedroom, at my desk, on loud speakers, etc. In short, I’ve listened to it a lot. On closer inspection of my iTunes I’ve listened to it 16 times all the way through and a few of the songs over 30 times. As far as an album I’ve lived-with, it makes the cut.
I first stumbled across Max and Julian’s work whilst searching through the Vancouver concert listings. I’ll rarely listen to the opener’s music before the show, this time I did. It took one listen of “Golden Days” to convert me to a fan. Their show at the Biltmore with Wild Nothing shot up to the top of my must-see concert list that month. Before the day of the show, that song was all I had heard. I did some searching and found “No Woman” – the first two singles from the album are standouts on the record.
Whitney makes music like a teenage girl well beyond her years. How could she have lived to tell these tales? Julian sings about searching for love and love lost. It evokes nostalgia. Will Miller on trumpet provides an added bonus to an already solid sound. It’s a mix between folk and soul.
The title track, “Light Upon The Lake,” is deserving of sharing it’s name with the album. It’s the middle track and it finds a balance between the bands many inspirations. “No Matter Where We Go,” the 3rd single is one of the strongest songs of the album. The chorus, “I wanna take you out/ I wanna drive around/ with you with the windows down/ we can run all night,” makes me think of summer.
Julian and Max are strong songwriters. I hear a strange paradox when I listen to Whitney. Their previous experience in bands like Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra shows. At the same time, the seasoned musicians bring a rawness to LUTL, particularly with the vocals. Julian’s vocals are both a strong and weak part of the mix. His falsetto is not quite but almost shaky .
Like all good interludes, “Red Moon” is something different, a fresh break between tracks. It shows off the horns, Whitney’s secret weapon. It flows from the song before it as if the two songs were one. On vinyl, I’ll play that transition over and over again. It sets up the album’s ending.
Who is Polly? They get a nice ode. The ten track is too short, it leaves you wanting more. “I’ll follow you” repeats to end the album before fading out. Light Upon The Lake is as strong as a debut as I’ve heard in 2016. The Chicago band is poised for a big summer. They are on tour, coming through Vancouver on August 1. Be sure to check them out.
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