From Hoboken, NJ, Tadpoles return with their fourth self-released studio CD. The band's first albums featured a modern psychedelic sound, but with its last disc Smoke Ghost and this current offering, Tadpoles' sound is evolving and maturing into a straight-ahead melodic rock sound which still keeps plenty of fuzz intact. With prior releases, Tadpoles specialized in midtempo songs; Whirlaway finds the band comfortable with faster rock numbers as well as slower, heavier barn-burners. "Frances the Dancer," the leadoff track, features the classic Tadpoles sound of melodic guitar-driven rock punctuated by sheets of distortion and feedback, plus a conga track that adds percussive interest. "Frances" was written and sung by guitarist Todd Parker, whose Marc Bolan-esque voice contrasts with Nick Kramer, composer of several other songs, such as the heavy workout "Lyman Bostock." His songs resemble the music of Kevin Ayers, with his bass voice and personal yet enigmatic lyrics. Elsewhere, analog synthesizers spice up the proceedings, as on the title track. Later on the album, Tadpoles experiment with early Pink Floyd-like extended instrumental jams on "Smile If You've Crossed Over" and "Horse and Buggy." While this type of material is not Tadpoles' strength, sandwiched between those two is the Lennon-esque "Sunrise Ocean Bender," a modern psychedelic masterpiece which ranks among the best songs Tadpoles have recorded. Whirlaway was named for an unpredictable 1940s racehorse whose record was erratic until his handler modified the horse's blinker; clear vision on his left side enabled Whirlaway to become a champion. With the album Whirlaway, Tadpoles continue to focus and strengthen their approach to both performing and songwriting; they've come up with another winner.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Powers