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Reviews

White Denim
Fits Barnaby Smith , June 26th, 2009 10:55

White Denim's Workout Holiday was an inconsistent collection of songs cobbled together from the scraps of their initial flush of creativity — specifically those that had provoked awe in the audiences of their early, incendiary live shows. The trio themselves would be the first to admit that at no point were the songs that ended up on that pulsating but slightly misguided debut originally designed to be shaped into a coherent whole. Fits, however, is the sound of White Denim writing with purpose, certainty and, most importantly, comfort in themselves. In some ways, it is their true debut; it certainly makes for a far more satisfying listen. Stripped of flab, more focussed and with the band clearly eschewing the hot-headed scratching around at various genres heard on Workout Holiday, it proves the Austin band's capacity to evolve.

What White Denim do naturally, and what worked best on Workout Holiday, is combining riff-heavy Zeppelin aping with passages of prog that wouldn't be out of place in Gabriel-era Genesis. This magic is encapsulated on 'Say What You Want', which for its first half is primitive, slightly gormless rock, though riveting nonetheless. Then the song transforms itself into bass-lead soloing alongside guitar effects that would please local friends The Black Angels. The song is a summation of White Denim's new identity and is the record's finest song, but there are golden moments elsewhere too. 'All Consolations' is in the same realm, though perhaps displays more towards their cock-rock tendencies, a combination of metal with the soul of, say, Blind Faith, and with a hook to die for.

While these songs sound huge and variously intricately textured, on Fits White Denim actually chose to continue with their habit of recording in their humble trailer, trying to eke out sounds from the most basic gear. That makes songs such as 'Sex Prayer' all the more impressive, especially when you consider they are — according to the hype surrounding Workout Holiday — meant to be a garage band. 'Sex Prayer' is a woozy, electronic affair and the one departure from White Denim's rock-prog stew. It's an undeniable success, and the exception that proves the rule: they've cut away the deadwood to arrive at a sound fully realises their ambition.

Yet this all comes with a caveat. It's arguable that the world won't continue to embrace White Denim with the fervour that it did when Workout Holiday rushed, raw and ready, out of the blocks. But no matter, for Fits is the sound of a band increasingly finding their true selves.

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