White Whale

This blog can’t claim to be first-wave. Or even, really, second-wave. Bon Ton is like a scavenger … I go through after a storm has hit the first-wave blogs, and I pick up the driftwood that’s left behind on the beach. Then I write pithy stuff about it. Which is where the metaphor ends. But speaking of the sea, here’s what Merge’s bio says about White Whale:

Amassing the power of the Big Star with the fury of the Sabbath (Black) and the mesmerizing wiles of the Badfinger the gentlemen of White (F-in’) Whale are not afraid to ask the musical question “What’s an Ocean For?” Beware ye Decemberists and those who would set the Arcade (a)Fire, the Okkervil River can not contain the enormity of White Whale.

Clever, eh? Of course White Whale has to face the anxiety of influence that the Decemberists exert, because who could follow a record like “Her Majesty” and hope to measure up? Luckily, White Whale doesn’t try to measure up. They aren’t the Decemberists, they aren’t the Arcade Fire, and they don’t have to be. It’s an inevitable comparison, I suppose, because their music has a historical flavor, and they do sound a bit Arcade Fire-y in the middle of their most popular track, but calling them a Decemberists-type band or an AF-type band does them a disservice.

Their biggest failing in my opinion is a tendency to cram too many lyrics into one line. Can you even call that a failing, when so many bands are completely the opposite? Yeah, I’m gonna call it a failing, because it detracts from the music, and it’s hard to follow. And the grammar is sort of odd, as you’ll see below. But maybe that’s just for weird grammar nerds like me to angst over.

I’m not going to full-on analyze the lyrics for “The Admiral,” because who likes to read that kind of thing besides yours truly, but I found them really interesting (this is my deciphered attempt; actual lyrics may vary slightly). It’s a chronicle of the breakdown of The Admiral, a man who “came in without his ship,” who is depressed and unsuccessful. He goes to a party anyway to try to get over his troubles:

And who throws parties like these anymore? Did they not go out of fashion before the war?
And while the cocktails were being mixed, the partygoers’ eyes were fixed on the Admiral, who had wrestled the host to the floor.

And the chairs and the tables about the room — you decided upon yourself it was time to prove
to the first somebody that you saw you were fit enough to break the law. So you broke it and broke it and broke it till she didn’t move.

And then comes the inevitable slide into insanity, as the Admiral sits and remembers his crime and “her eyes, her eyes!” Rather chilling and quite effectual. At least on me. White Whale’s first album, “WWI,” will be released July 25th. You can stream it at the Merge site.

White Whale: Myspace | Label (Merge)

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]
White Whale – The Admiral
White Whale – We’re Just Temporary, Ma’am



  1. LeavingLiverpool’s avatar

    Let me just make a little comment about the Decemberists. Maybe you can put my mind at rest. Okay, so I really liked the Decemberists. They are like a mix between all kinds of stuff I love: history, folk, Clancy Bros., rock, romance (literarily speaking, haha) and poetry. Somewhere in there I just got hit in the face with the prentiousness of the lyrics and Colin Meloy’s voice in general. Can you relate to this? Anyway, I have pretty much stopped listening. I am sure you have something good to say that put my objections to rest.

  2. zara’s avatar

    Actually, I think that’s the way it goes with the Decemberists. You take my route, and never get tired of them, or you take your route, and just get fed up.

    It’s not wrong, you don’t HAVE to like them. Everyone likes something different. Or it may be that you’ve heard the wrong songs … it took me a ton of listenings to like some of them. And his voice definitely is one of those “like it or hate it” kind of voices. So it’s cool, it’s cool, as long as you gave it a try.

Comments are now closed.