Whitey | The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train (Dim Mak)

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The songs rarely deviate from their core progression, repeating that main musical phrase over and over again with slight variations, until the tune is essentially a blunt instrument for clubbing the listener into submission.

cd_whiteyI hadn't heard much about this Whitey bloke until I glanced over his press sheet, but from the looks of it, he really wants people to believe he's some deranged hoodlum who lurks about in seedy London flats, probably with a syringe jabbed deep into his left arm. The guy refers to himself as a "misanthrope," for crying out loud, and lists "skulking in dark corners" as one of his favorite activities. My bet is that the guy's probably just an irritable suburbanite whose compositions weren't gaining enough attention from record labels, hence the need for a mystery-shrouded persona. Heaven help me, though, if he's a genuine lunatic. If he wants to do to my body what he's done to my ears, I'm going to regret having doubted the sincerity of his madness.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train finds our lovable recluse Whitey fashioning electro-rock nuggets out of elemental instrumental loops. The guy's an absolute slave to the groove. The songs rarely deviate from their core progression, repeating that main musical phrase over and over again with slight variations, until the tune is essentially a blunt instrument for clubbing the listener into submission. Sometimes the hazy sensation that results can be enjoyable, but often the louder numbers feel like missed opportunities. "Y.U.H.2.B.M.2," for example, could really use a bridge section, instead of another minute of Whitey moaning "why you have to beat me?" like it was his mantra.

Still, when Whitey connects, he breaks bones. Set opener "Intro/In the Limelight" hits like a lean welterweight fighter, with spartan guitars slashing across a menacingly insistent beat. "Leave Them All Behind" plays like a Möbius strip, a delirious bullet train journey toward infinity. The keyboards stutter, the vocals blur from the velocity, and all of those underlying Krautrock influences finally pay off for our pasty English buddy. The quiet moments between Whitey's more hard-nosed efforts also prove to be uniformly solid, if only because you can actually hear his slurred mumbles for a change. "Can't Go Out, Can't Stay In" is an ethereal take on paralysis, the misleadingly titled "Tantrum" proves to be an unsettling slow-burner, and the closing title track skewers the traditional pop ballad with Whitey's unique sense of impending doom.

So, here's the customary summary section: slightly deranged (but probably for publicity purposes), Whitey specializes in droning, keyboard-slathered rock songs. Sometimes these work quite well; at other times they infuriate. He actually excels at slow jams, and should probably cut an album full of them (Whitey for Lovers?). The man needs to learn how to annunciate. And yes, as always, be wary of the British music press... they seem to have hyped this fellow up quite a bit. But I'd advise a close listening in advance. To a certain extent, I think Whitey derives just as much pleasure from alienating listeners as he does by converting them to his cause. C+

RIYL: Beck, The Faint

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