The Whitsundays–The Whitsundays–Friendly Fire

The Whitsundays
The Whitsundays
Friendly Fire
ADDS 1/8/08

It could just as easily be 1967. But no matter the year, Edmonton, Alberta’s the Whitsundays certainly have a knack for writing yellowed, reverb-wrapped pop music, borrowing from the grand tradition of English psychedelia, garage, and vintage organ rock. With reverent nods to the flower-picking whimsy of the Zombies, the red-faced bluster of the Animals, and the delightful inanity of Syd Barrett, the Whitsundays’ self-titled debut is a vintage gem, and a charming hodgepodge of ’60s musical ephemera. The main Whit, Paul Arnusch — who also logs time with starry post-rock supernauts Faunts and post-punk reduxers the Floor — called on his ever-expanding collection of vintage gear (from archaic guitars to Rhodes and Wurlitzers) to document a loose, passionate love letter to the past 40 years of “timeless music.” And if the haunting Beach Boys outro on “It Must Be Me” or the lithe vocal melody and gentle propulsion of “Already Gone” are any indication, this is one hell of a letter. Of course, none of this backward-glancing praise is to say that Arnusch’s first offering with the Whitsundays sounds all that old. On the contrary, he manages to transport the antiqued sounds of the ’60s — walls of dreamy harmonies, straight-away drumming, boney guitars, whirring organs — across the same updated palates employed by bands like Dressy Bessy, Apples in Stereo, The Shins, and Belle & Sebastian. And while this is quite the departure for Arnusch, who is more used to pounding out labyrinthine experiments behind the kit for Faunts and 80’s-minded melodrama with the Floor than such lovely sock-hop simplicity, his experimental sensibilities still peek through on the Whitsundays‖ self-titled debut album. In fact, these curiosities and quirks are perhaps the album’s strongest suit, tugging a set of super-sweet diner pop through the ages, and somehow updating it along the way.
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