Friday, October 23, 2009

The Whip "X Marks Destination" 2009


01 Trash
02 Frustration
03 Fire
04 Save My Soul
05 Sirens
06 Divebomb
07 Blackout
08 Muzzle #1
09 Sister Siam
10 Dubsex

The hedonistic train-wreck of a scene that was Madchester may have fizzled out since the Happy Mondays’ graceless implosion in the mid 90s and sure, many artists have picked up the pieces they left scattered about the place, taking dance beats and layering them with guitars, thereby creating a cross-over genre accessible to two previously unacquainted audiences. If that’s the case, why has the phrase 'nu-rave' only recently been coined? U.N.K.L.E and Primal Scream have been doing it for years. Just what, you cry, are Manchester’s hardest gigging band The Whip doing differently?

The most noticeable thing about first track and single ‘Trash’ is that there’s really not much to it, just a simple beat, one guitar riff and two lyrics, yet it is put together so precisely, building up to the sleazy, powerful chorus: “I wanna be trash!” that it’s pretty impossible not to dance to. Many of the songs are based around a dirty electronic sound over drum beats so simplistic that you can actually sit back and appreciate the subtle tweaks in the songs.

Any seasoned ravers will be familiar with ‘Divebomb’, a big summer clubbing anthem, which follows much the same formula, except with busy laser-gun effects. Notable exceptions to the futuristic electro blueprint stamped across the album are the sweeping, dreamy tones of ‘Frustration’ and new single ‘Sister Siam’ which are both glaring examples of the band’s invention and versatility. Final track ‘Dubsex’ is a beautifully crafted pop song, and, as with ‘Frustration’, betrays a fragile and sensitive side to this band.

It is this contrast between the more melodic dance-pop tracks on the album and the positively filthy bass lines of the remainder that makes this album shine. ‘Trash’ and ‘Fire’ ooze with a rhythmic swagger and are made of nothing more than pure, nasty, undiluted sex. Then, just as you’re getting your breath back and lighting a cigarette, the warm grooves of ‘Frustration’ and ‘Sirens’ wash over you and tip a proverbial ice bucket over your head.

So if you’re down with the nu-rave thing (and looking for more bands to assemble a new genre in your record collection), like trendy indie-pop or are partial to a bit of sexy electro, ‘X Marks Destination’ is already an essential album and a remarkable achievement for this band, even if they did find themselves in the right place at the right time.

- Pete Charles


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