Whirlwind Heat

Do Rabbits Wonder?

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To Jack White's credit, the bands he's signed to his Third Man label don't sound anything like the White Stripes. Though Detroit's campy disco-punks Electric Six and Grand Rapids' Whirlwind Heat are geographically close and have similarly arty approaches, musically they're a pretty far cry from the White Stripes' fusion of garage, blues, and pop. Whirlwind Heat stray particularly far from White's sonic template, offering a mix of angular, Anglicized, no-wave pop and sludgy rock that bears a passing resemblance to contemporaries like the Liars, but has a closer kinship with mid-'90s noise rock à la Brainiac and the Melvins, and in the work of sonic pranksters such as Ween and Devo. On their full-length, Jack White-produced debut, Do Rabbits Wonder, the trio offers up a baker's dozen of new and old songs named after colors, which adds yet another kink to an already quirky album. This would push the band toward being a novelty act if they didn't rock so convincingly, which they do, albeit in a jagged, so-dorky-it's-cool kind of way. While the color pink may not suggest blasts of fuzz bass, yelped vocals, and Moogs set to stun, that's what the song "Pink," and, indeed, most of Do Rabbits Wonder. delivers. Within this (ahem) palette, the band does display a surprising amount of diversity, spanning the pounding intensity of "Red," which mixes a revved-up bassline and chopped-up screaming; the playful, helium-addled "Tan," the barely controlled chaos of "Brown" and "Blue," and the relatively poppy "Orange" and "White." For all the sludge and fuzz on the album, Do Rabbits Wonder never becomes muddy; the grit and gristle of Whirlwind Heat's abrasive repertoire of sounds remains clearly defined even at its most crazed. While this nervy, bludgeoning album would probably be on a much smaller label were it not for White's involvement with the band, Do Rabbits Wonder's major-label-level exposure is almost as refreshing as its noisy weirdness.

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