Whitney: SPARK (Secretly Canadian) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, January 27th, 2023  



Secretly Canadian

Sep 14, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It should be a crime for the duo of Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek to release another of their shimmery summery albums on the eve of autumn. But nonetheless, Ehrlich and Kakacek continue to impress on their third album of original music. SPARK finds Whitney exploring backing beats, synthesizers, and string arrangements with winning results. Similar to 2019’s Forever Turned Around, SPARK takes a few listens for its tendrils to find their footing, but it’s well worth the not too strenuous effort.

Leadoff track “NOTHING REMAINS” instantly announces itself with gently slapping synths that Ehrlich croons over in his trademark falsetto. The more expansive approach fully gels on the single “REAL LOVE,” where the scrubby beat-heavy programming allows for a jumping off point for swirling choruses punctuated with synths and keys. Recorded at Texas’s Sonic Ranch Studios, where others such as Big Thief and Waxahatchee seemed to have found a new muse, the duo cites SPARK’s expanded instrumentation as the logjam breaker of inspiration that was needed to carry them forward.

That being said, it is a couple of the more subtle tracks that grab the most attention here. “TWIRL” sounds like a gorgeous minor key outtake from The Beach Boys circa Surf’s Up. Piano notes suffuse the song with a gentle light over which Ehrlich sings one of his most plaintive vocals while describing the desperation in trying to hang on to a fading relationship. And though a lengthier take on album closer “COUNTY LINES” may have put it in the realm of Forever Turned Around’s “Friend of Mine,” Ehrlich’s doubled down vocal choruses make it one of Whitney’s finest recorded moments. Already one of indie rock’s tightest live bands, SPARK gives them a dozen more arrows for their quiver and maybe a chance for Ehrlich to get out from behind the drum kit and soothe our souls straight from the footlights. (www.whitneytheband.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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