Whitney – ‘Light Upon the Lake’ album review

Whitney Chicago band music Light Upon the Lake album review

Hailing from Chicago and already a cult favourite on 6Music, Whitney look all but certain to be one of your new favourite bands. Signed to Secretly Canadian, they’re set to release their debut album ‘Light Upon the Lake’. The duo have called in musicians who have worked with everyone from Chance the Rapper to Twin Peaks on this record and it’s also been produced by Rado from Foxygen and mixed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portraits. Will the LP live up to the promise shown by singles like ‘No Woman’?

Opening with the sun-kissed ‘No Woman’, you get the feeling this will be a great record to put on the turntable and listen to out in the sun. With references to LA and bouncing bass mixed in with some slide guitar, it sounds like something akin to Brendan Benson contributing to Will Arnett’s Flaked soundtrack. This is followed by ‘The Falls’ combination of falsetto, riffs and power-pop hooks. A mixture of Curtis Mayfield and The Charlatans, this is a melodic piece that fits perfectly with the folk-tinged ‘Golden Days’ that follows after it – and throws in some ‘na, na, nas’ at its climax for good measure.

Whitney describe their sound as ‘country-soul’ and it’s hard to argue with this, especially the second part. There’s so much passion and heart poured into every song that you can’t help but be drawn into their world. Some songs are full of pain and heartbreak (‘Dave’s Song’ has a compelling delivery of ‘I wish you were my friend’) while others focus on altogether more positive aspects of life and relationships. The album centrepiece, ‘No Matter Where You Go’ is entrenched in a swathe of optimism and even has its own sing-along chorus: ‘Don’t you feel lonely no matter where we go. I want to take you out; I want to drive around with you with the windows down’. It’s a celebratory song bursting with positivity. Of course, it’s followed by a much slower and more contemplative track in ‘On My Own’ which finds the lovelorn band pleading ‘I think we should try again, I want you in my arms, I can’t sleep alone when you’re on your own’.

‘Polly’ is another wistful song that finds Whitney looking back wistfully on the past: ‘I lay awake in all kinds of darkness’. With nods towards ‘I’m Wide Awake’-era Bright Eyes, you can feel and share in the pain they’re suffering. The closing song, ‘Follow, covers the death of a close friend but in a very melancholy style. With more than a passing resemblance to ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head’ , it’s surprisingly jaunty and wonderfully touching – try not to choke up when the lines ‘When it’s coming to an end, at least the rain won’t come again’. This is then further set off by the authoritative final, repeated mantra of ‘I’ll follow you’.

Throughout the album, the vocals are delicate and bring to mind Perfume Genius, while the bursts of trumpet are always perfectly timed and add some real depth. With ‘Light Upon the Lake’, Whitney show why they’re shining bright.


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