WHITNEY – ” Forever Turned Around, “

Posted: December 27, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Whitney’s debut album, “Light Upon the Lake”, came out on June 3rd, 2016. It was the kind of record perfectly suited to early June, its sunny guitar riffs personifying the promise of summer: the parties, the road trips, the romances. The now indie classic began with an ode to loneliness on “No Woman,” but it quickly transitioned into something more hopeful, the search for golden days on the open road in a “trash heap two-seat” with nowhere to go. The duo, made up of Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, reveled in the unknown and found happiness in spontaneity.

This year Whitney has returned to delight us with its delicate indie folk ambient sound. Its soft and enveloping music seems to be designed for rainy afternoons of tea and blanket. In his album time seems to pass slowly between very bright everyday places. Although critics agree that this new work has been little risky and has lost some of the freshness of its first album, it is still an exquisite album.

In contrast their new album, “Forever Turned Around”, is the Chicago band’s follow up (which finally sees the light of day on August. 30th embodies the very end of summer.

That auspicious romance didn’t quite work out the way they had envisioned it when pulling out of the driveway—it’s now dissolving right in front of them. Lyrics like “You’re still a friend of mine while you’re drifting away” (“Friend of Mine”) or “Tears are falling one by one / I can feel you giving up” (“Giving Up”) have replaced the wide-eyed optimism of their debut. Forever Turned Around is the reality to Light Upon the Lake’s expectation—summer is over and with it, the fling that defined it.

The last time we heard from Chicago-based Whitney they were the easy-breezy bros stepping out into the wider world imbued with optimism, wonder and romanticism – the feeling was so infectious we fell head over heels gifting them our number one album of 2016.

Forever Turned Around is like the return of a good friend you’ve not seen for some time – but there’s something lost or broken.

There’s always been a wistful melancholy coursing through vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek odes but where Light Upon The Lake was a wide-eyed love letter to the future Forever Turned Around seems more of sigh to what’s gone, and will never be rekindled.

There’s genuine sadness and longing in Ehrlich‘s beautiful falsetto. See the way he coos desperation in Valleys (My Love), “There’s gotta be another way, I’ve been on my own all day, pretending everything’s alright, we’ve been drifting apart sometime.

This feeling is echoed right across Forever Turned Around‘s instrumentation as their folksy-pop doesn’t effuse the bright spark of their debut, instead it is replaced by a pensive, mournful or downright sorrowful tone – see intro and lead single’s Giving Up‘s tearful waltz before their characteristic introduction of brass brightens up the narrative in the final third.

Equally downbeat are the final three tracks which neatly segue into a triptych of soulful blues; Day & Night with it’s swoonsome guitars aligned to lyrics about drifting and feeling strange, Friend of Mine which takes The Band‘s template of Americana wrapping delicious harmonies around a longing ragtime tune before the title track’s closing statement: “Has your heart grown heavy by now, because mine’s already on the ground,” sums up the album’s over all feel.

There are, however, brighter notes – the brass-to-the-fore instrumental of Rhododendron plays on their superlative nature as a tight-ass live outfit before fading out way too soon. While Before I Know It is a simply gorgeous track uplifted by a final flourish of lush sweeping orchestration.

By taking the same approach as their quite magnificent debut, Whitney have repeated that blueprint, yet with thinly layered woe Forever Turned Aroundis a without a doubt a more difficult listen which will inevitably underwhelm some of their fan base.

That said, there’s few bands out there who can create such beautiful timeless music as this and make it seem so easy. Expect tears.

Forever Turned Around, the new album from Whitney, out August 30th, 2019 on Secretly Canadian Records.

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