I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to “Percussion Gun” by the White Rabbits. It could be close to a thousand by now. From the minute I first heard it, I was hooked. The stomp, the power, the thundering drums- it all had me. What a great driving song! Do it. Speed down a highway and blast “Percussion Gun” and tell me you’re not having the time of your life. I am a huge fan of “Percussion Gun.”
But it gets tricky though, because overall I don’t know if I’m a fan of the White Rabbits. In fact, for the sheer number of times I’ve listened to “Percussion Gun” it’s mildly remarkable that I’ve actually never made it past the fifth song on the album it’s on, It’s Frightening. No, it’s not frightening. It’s just the truth. It is not as if I didn’t like anything else on the album, just that none of it grabbed my attention with the same vigor and passion that “Percussion Gun” did. I think it is best said that if the White Rabbits and I went to college together, we’d have shared a class or two and maybe even a few beers- but after graduation, I’d hardly call us friends. The White Rabbits and I are buddies at most and would probably only keep in touch on birthdays through Facebook.
So it’s with a mild curiosity that I started listening to Milk Famous, the new album by the White Rabbits. There was part of me that was hoping for another “Percussion Gun” and another part of me that had no idea what to expect. There was a third part of me that just wanted to keep listening to the new Black Keys’ album. But I’m a professional and also slightly afraid of growing tired of El Camino, so I dove in- Milk Famous or bust.
For starters, there is no “Percussion Gun” on Milk Famous. There’s really nothing even close to it. But wait, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a different thing, like how Treme is different from The Wire. Whereas nothing will ever top The Wire and in my eyes, few songs will top the magnificent thrusting energy wallop of “Percussion Gun,” to knock Treme or Milk Famous for not being like their predecessors isn’t fair. They’re just different. Different is what we want from our artists don’t we? I sure do. We want our artists to grow and evolve and that seems to be what the White Rabbits are in the midst of doing.
Milk Famous is a compacted slice of sustained dance rock. The White Rabbits aren’t kicking out any jams or urging the kids to grab some cardboard- but each song has a definitive groove to it. It’s slightly more accessible than the ambient dressing up of the Radiohead sound, with solid back beats bringing it all together. The guitar tones are fuzzy and the vocals are wonderfully thin and wistful. You know what is it? It’s maturity. That’s what Milk Famous is- it is a representation of the maturity of a great, up and coming band. “Percussion Gun” and the rest of It’s Frightening was the outpouring of enthusiasm by a brash group of dudes looking to make a name for themselves. Milk Famous is a horse in full stride masterfully harnessing all of its energy and busting it all out when needed.
I have no doubt that the White Rabbits can harken back to the musical lunacy of “Percussion Gun” and, live, maybe they still do. And I have no doubt that the White Rabbits will be able to prove to people like me that they are much more than what the highlights of It’s Frightening demonstrated. They might be a band to watch. They might not be. But regardless, Milk Famous is an album to listen to.
The White Rabbits play Union Transfer in Philly on Tuesday March 6th with Tennis and Daughter.
photo by Derrick Santini.