23rd September 2014 – Graveface Records & Curiosities
My favourite release so far in 2014, Nothing‘s Guilty of Everything, shares a number of things with Whirr‘s sophomore effort Sway. They both sit happily within the shoegaze genrefication – although it’s a buzzword that could and has in recent times inadvertently label a band as ‘hipster/trendy/toocoolforschool’, both bands appear to be genuine, and in any case have released well-crafted albums of more substance than any trend-jumping noob could hope to do. They also share Nick Bassett, who is the vocalist/guitarist for Whirr and play bass in Nothing, and members of both bands play in another project called Death of Lovers.
Bassett’s breathy, sometimes ethereal vocals meander in and out of each track, never taking centre-stage, but rather flowing between the fuzzed-out basslines, soaring guitars and expansive drums to hypnotic effect. This is one of those late night, lights-out, headphone albums that you can get totally absorbed in – it’s heavy enough in parts to keep your attention, but the dynamics and space that Whirr have managed to capture/create allow you the freedom to lose yourself in the moment without fear of not finding your way back.
Whilst there is not a great deal of experimentation in terms of varying tones, vocal patterns, or straying from the template set by the great 80s exponents of this sound, there is something about Sway that lingers on long after “Feel” abruptly halts proceedings. Maybe it’s this sudden, jolting end that leaves us wanting more. There is a certain yearning sensation created by the introspective melodies that draws the listener back to the start of the album.
The production and mix is exceptional – the drums in particular are crisp and cut through in just the right places without sounding at all artificial. Combined with the beautifully fuzzy low end of Eddie Salgado’s bass ruminations, the wispy, reverb-laden guitar melodies and Bassett’s aforementioned trance-like harmonies, the drums afford a great deal of breadth to the album. At eight songs, and with a running time of around 35 minutes, there is a Goldilocks feel to Sway – it’s not too long, not too short, it’s just about right and is most definitely a top ten album for me this year.
To keep us yearning even more, Whirr and Nothing have a split EP coming out on November 18 through Run For Cover Records – my headphones are humming with anticipation.