The Whigs

Modern Creation

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The skull on the album cover -- all blacks and blues, looking like it should be illuminated via black light -- is a dead giveaway that the Whigs have shaken off the effervescence that characterized 2012's Enjoy the Company for 2014's Modern Creation. They've returned to loud guitars, but the touchstone isn't '90s alt rock, it's a fuzz-rich re-creation of the '70s -- a hazy, pot-soaked acid rock that suits that cheekily foreboding album artwork. The Whigs aren't Wolfmother, so they don't play it straight -- they dip into disco for "Hit Me" and can't quite let pop go, choosing to emphasize hooks on the title track instead of riffs -- but much of Modern Creation crests on waves of distortion, placing emphasis on the noise instead of the songs. Underneath the amplification, the songs are still there and still sturdy, but the buzz of stomp boxes hides that craft while also suggesting the songs run much longer than they do (most of the songs barely tap out over three minutes). Oddly, all the noise feels a bit scooped out -- it rattles around like a fly caught in a glass, all mid-range and tinny treble -- but ultimately that underscores the impression that Modern Creation is something of a throwback: 40 minutes of fuzz designed to be heard five songs at a time.

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