March 15, 2012

Album Review: Whirr's Pipe Dreams

In 2012, there probably aren't too many new avenues left for a post-millennial shoegaze band to take that haven't already been driven down before. We've heard it given sugary delightful pop makeovers, drugged up in a haze of psychedelics and even sludged up with metal. BUZZSound alumni Whirr on the other hand don't seem too concerned about reinventing the genre, as their debut EP Distressor suggested their attention would focus on refining the elemental perfection of My Bloody Valentine and Ride's massive, soaring wall of sound influence. On the Bay Area sextet's first formal full-length Pipe Dreams, Whirr swell up the speakers with varied facets of icy soundscapes wedged between toppling mountains of distortion, and it's impossible not to be impressed by it.

Pipe Dreams sets Whirr up with the platform to branch out their massively lush sound, a potential that was clearly heard in their Distressor EP. Where as that listen swirled through the heavens, their debut LP's direction doesn't follow so much of a linear path on its way up skyward. The floods of distortion and woozy keys fluctuate, on one hand brooding inside a post-rock gorge that no doubt overlaps the atmospheric influence of guitarist Nick Bassett's metal-minded project Deafheaven ("Reverse," "Flashback," "Hide") and on the other, piledrives its way through dreamy high-octane collages accentuated by Whirr's vapory male-female vocals ("Junebouvier," "Bogus," "Home Is Where My Head Is.") Aerial theatrics aside, "Toss" is the album's most authentic moment within its glaring influence arsenal, opting for spangled post-punk to drown out most of the ear-swelling feedback.

It's not a huge surprise to discover on Pipe Dreams that Whirr are well-informed students of the shoegaze craft and can manipulate the sound to a T. With so many bands currently opting to stretch and skew it to their own likings, the San Francisco sextet instead emphasize and embellish the genre's original trademark sloshy guitars and wavy synths beyond the influence from which they draw from. All of the elements are in place on Pipe Dreams to create an emotional reaction that permeates through the speaker, and when that wall of sound hits, it's just too beautiful to ignore.

Whirr's Pipe Dreams is available now on Tee Pee Records.

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