With White Denim’s latest album D featuring in many of 2011’s Best Of lists, the official release of Last Day of Summer, previously a free download on the band’s website, seems rather fortuitously timed. Nevertheless, this record provides a pleasantly eclectic mix of tracks.
‘I’d Have It Just The Way We Were’, ‘Champ’ and ‘Incaviglia’ offer an almost jazzy feel, while ‘If You’re Changing’ and ‘Light Light Light’ are developmental slow burners, particularly the latter, which ends with a great sax solo. The trouble with the album is that it lacks any distinct tone or theme; each track, while enjoyable, feels unrelated to the next. Although ‘Tony Fatti’ and ‘Some Wild Going Outward’ have similar, almost conversational vocals and textured guitar, each song seems independent, more like assorted singles thrown together than a complete, fluid album.
Despite this, the album does show off the band’s full diversity, almost like a portfolio of their yet-unfulfilled potential. Two highlights are ‘Our Get’ and ‘New Coat’, both presenting a delicacy and intricacy less present in previous work. Neither track is too calculated, beginning softly and low-fi, building to louder, faster and energetic highs. In this sense, the album’s title couldn’t be more apt, with melancholic as well as hopeful sentiments and sounds working in synergy. Steven Terebecki and James Petralli work in simple but striking vocal harmony throughout, and the album showcases the band’s instrumental talent too, with each song offering different and impressive guitar as well as a handful of other instruments, proving that White Denim are a band who are eager to avoid being pigeon-holed in to one genre. Much as the lyrics of ‘New Coat’ proclaim ‘I’m right where I wanna be’, the band, too, seem content with their position musically.
Although the album is more of an extension than new, more exciting material, there is plenty to enjoy here. It’s certainly gentler than ‘D’, which some would view as a good thing, and yet there’s no substitution for the complexities, both rhythmically as well as instrumentally, that so often earn White Denim praise. Perhaps the album’s best asset is the questions it presents: with universal acclaim for the band growing, and such genre-hopping versatility, the band could follow numerous musical paths, and these next steps are definitely worth following.By Alex Morden Osborne