Album review of 'Workout Holiday' by White Denim released through Full Time Hobby.
Sometimes, retro chic doesn't necessarily have to be about celebrating the past and nothing else. Occasionally someone comes along with a historical vision that starts way back yonder but actually delivers something entirely out of the ordinary firmly ensconced in the future. Take Austin-based trio White Denim for example. Undoubtedly influenced by the last four decades as far as their musical heritage is concerned, their love of all things Hendrix, Devo, Husker Du and even San Francisco psychedelia is all too apparent here. What they also possess however, in spades for that matter, is a 21st Century sensibility that transports their discordant hero-evoking noise into something quite unique for its time.
Combining so many elements that transcend numerous genres - recent single 'All You Really Have To Do' mixes a Hendrix-style epochal with the dirtiest blues riff not to come from Alabama, while 'Don't Look That Way At It' brings XTC into the modern age courtesy of an experimental glitch-rock passage that becomes more charming with every listen - 'Workout Holiday' is the record we've been crossing our fingers for since White Denim's earliest demo recordings first created a stir over this side of the Atlantic.
At times more recent reference points could be Kings Of Leon or The Strokes, except that what sets this three-piece apart from any post-millennium contemporaries is both the sheer passionate energy that resonates throughout the record combined with an audacity to push the boundaries a little, mostly when you'd least expect them to. Singer James Petralli has a vocal that wouldn't out of place fronting any number of varying musical projects, while the high levels of intensity around such masterful pieces as the post-rock-if-it-were-steeped-late-seventies-nostalgia of 'WDA' coupled with 'Shake Shake Shake' and its obvious homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd gone punk make this one of the most interesting rock albums you'll hear all year, not to mention an almost perfect advertisement for their impending tour of the UK.
The only downside - in a purely nitpicking kinda way - is the fact that debut single and opening track 'Let's Talk About It' still shines high and mighty above the rest as their best song, an almost untouchable four minutes that one suspects will remain as the band's legacy until they call it a day.
On the whole though, White Denim have at least proved that having a rock'n'roll outlook and mentality doesn't have to be extreme plagiarism at the same time, and 'Workout Holiday' is one of those records that will surely act as a standard bearer for artists of a similar nature in the future.