I don’t know exactly how the hell Whiner got into my record collection but damn it they certainly picked out some of my favorite artists and used their influences to turn them into some amazing songs. They recently released their sophomore full length album Peace Out Cruel World and I cannot stop listening to it. The band takes post-punk, adds elements of Shoegaze and 80s Alternative and sets them to lyrics of self-doubt, emotional angst and death imagery. They do this in a way that you could bring to the dance floor. It is a fresh, lush and slightly dark place to be and I am wonderfully happy here.
Opener “Sleeping Pills” starts with a guitar line that sounds like a slowed down version of the beginning of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” before surging forth in a wail of echo and drone laden guitars. It is a brilliant way to kick off the album. It is both anthemic and atmospheric. Singer/songwriter Cameron J. Castan wastes no time in displaying his vocal range from frantic wailing to a croon. With no break between songs this leads directly into “Sweeter” which is my favorite track on the record. This is no small feat on a record filled with diamonds. A gorgeously haunting song where each instrument stands out on its own but is mixed so wonderfully. Sparse guitar slashes and delicate synth create glide and sway over each other creating a wonderful texture. It reminds me of what Gene Loves Jezebel were doing on their US breakthrough album Discover. “Sweeter” is a killer track that sounds bathed in fog and lilies.
The band can also get you to the dance floor as evidenced in “Fear”. The funky bass line from Bridget Bakie threads the whole tune and holds it together. The angry, blistering guitar from Christian “Boon” Castan and gothic romance imagery of the lyrics make it sound like it was recorded in an industrial warehouse. This is a good thing. Castan channels Peter Murphy with growls, howls and whispers while facing your demons. Other touches are well executed here like the heavy 80s synth of Henry Heissenbuttel on “Mood Ring” or the fantastic drums on “Varicose Veins” from Johnny Dynamite. “Varicose Veins” is another highlight. A danceable, jaunty, dare I say upbeat tune with just the right amount of echoing howling madness sprinkled throughout. The visceral, blood spattering lyrics of “Baseball Bat” are a primal scream that find hope on the other side. Closer “Burn” is a supremely crafted tune that adds a dash of indie pop with soaring guitar work and melodies.
I cannot praise Peace Out Cruel World enough. If I didn’t know better you could tell me this was a greatest hits album and I would have believed you. This is a band to keep on your radar as I have a feeling they are just starting to hit their peak. It will be fascinating to see where they go from here.
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