As a David Guetta-powered tidal wave of Euro dance crashes and breaks over the world’s nations, it’s hard not to wonder – where has all the indie music gone? Swept into the nooks of surburban garages? Hidden within the crannies of Williamsburg? Have fey indie rockers been squashed by the unrelenting auto-tuned demands to move it to the dance floor and put your hands up in the air?
But, perhaps like limescale, there’s indie music that clings still, immovable to the bright-bleach gushing of Top 40 pop. It may not be neon, nor brash but it’s enduring – to the charts and to hearts.
Are Brooklyn’s White Rabbits ready to qualify as music’s answer to bathroom mould? Critics swooned over their debut, Fort Nightly, and follow-up It’s Frightening produced their most-plays on Spotify. So how does their third effort Milk Famous compare?
A collaboration with Spoon’s producer Mike McCarthy means that there’s definitely a ‘spoonful’ (sorry) of his sugar in the mix. It’s music that’s melodic, that catches you with a well-employed nip to the ear, rather than an aural cuffing. Sometimes quiet, sometimes louder and more insistent, it shuffles along like a teenager scuffing their shoes or a Seth Cohen attempt at skateboarding. At times I felt fully thrown back to the era of polo shirts in the O.C and the soundtrack of a Seth-moan over Summer.
The six piece – whose line up consists of not one, but two drummers (well, you’ll never have enough, will you?) – describe themselves as purveyors of calypso rock. Try some on for size with “Back for More”; it leans into the tropical vibes that White Rabbits so adhere to, and a moody line edges between the rhythmic drum beats. Single “Heavy Metal’ checks into the same line, and it’s languidly fun with the guitar and drums skittering all over the place. Meanwhile, lead singer Stephen Patterson’s vocal is delightfully mournful.
White Rabbits are the masters of the introduction: “The Day You Won The War” exemplifies the ungainly starts they seem to revel in, before it plunges into an upbeat, fresh sound. I like these introductions – they’re sometimes more interesting than what follows.’”Everyone Can’t Be Confused” promises more than it eventually delivers, with its rowdy, kicking introduction that’s eventually soothed over by the piano keys. But on It’s Frightening, White Rabbits deliver the quirks with this jaunty song scored by guitar riffs.
Many tracks stick firmly to a well-trodden formula of instruments blurring together; rattle of the drums, the urgency of the riffs and an ambling bass, where the vocal sometimes disappears. “I Had It Coming” plods along to a slightly interminable point, and “Hold It To The Fire”, after an intriguingly ghostly start, segues to more of a sulk. Maybe it’s just my penchant for percussion, but if you have two drummers at your disposal, perhaps you’d make more of them?
The more bite, the more satisfying the listen. “I’m Not Me” is a bit punchier and recalls White Rabbit’s earlier efforts, like the excellent “Percussion Gun”. Download “Temporary”. It has sass and intrigue, and a cool urgency within the percussion. “Danny Come Inside” starts quietly grows rowdier; the builds of the guitars and the shouting stamps of the drums are utterly immersive. One to catch live, I’d hope.
Despite my bemoaning their musical meanderings, it’s a solid effort from White Rabbits with Milk Famous. If only they milked their obvious talents some more.