In 2008, The Whip broke onto the scene with their debut album, X Marks Destination. The album was entertaining but only the single “Trash” really left much of an impression. My original review of the album cited the band's inability to hit the 'memorable' mark. The overall vibe of the album was above-average, but underwhelming. Three years later and the subtraction of a founding member bring the album Wired Together, and it seems someone was paying attention.
Honing but not overhoned..
The group has spent time crafting tracks that play to their strengths. In X Marks Destination, the group dedicates their sound to honing an edge that honestly didn't need to be honed. The album was more about the growl of the guitars than about the overall combined sounds and impressions everyone who contributed could create. And so with Wired Together, that's what I was looking to hear, and I heard it. From the album opener, “Keep or Delete”, the subtle combination of rock and electronica is both seductive and effective. The growling guitar of their first album is still there, but layered smoothly between the vocals and the beats in a medley of captivating aural landscapes. And that's not even the best track on the album. To say that the worst track on the album is above par would be a spot on assessment. The tracks pulling up the rear in quality, “Shake”, “Riot” and “Intensity”, are all entertaining and intense electronic tracks. For the most part they lack compelling melodies but make up for that lack with some commanding dance beats. So to set the bar around 'average' on the first track is quite a statement. However, the second track on the album sets the bar pretty high. “Secret Weapon” is the first track on the album that gave me goosebumps. Not the last, I'm pleased to say, but I was sufficiently impressed with the track. The combined aspects of entrancing melody and grounding bass support the Whip's vocalist over an insistent beat.
Exceeding the bar set by “Secret Weapon” seems a struggle afterward. The Whip comes close to passing it with “Movement,” a rump-shaking house track combined with some organic-feeling elements. “Movement” also includes some compelling piano, creating a whirlwind of dramatic moods. “Metal Law” also comes close. Its repetitive spoken lyrics over chugging bass are both magnetic and a great way to pass four-and-a-half minutes. And by injecting a good sense of dark foreboding in their music, The Whip creates the trance-inspired “Best Friend.” The content of the lyrics matches the mood of the track, where the singer seems to be pushing himself on another, forcing their friendship. The album's closer, “Slow Down,” is good for the first couple minutes but overstays its welcome at seven minutes in length. The cake, however, is really taken by “Master of Ceremonies.” This track has it all: a healthy sense of drama, the incorporation of symphonic elements, well-written emotional lyrics, and a punchy dance beat. This is a band that has actualized its strengths into a powerhouse of a track. It's hard to deny the appeal as “Master of Ceremonies” evolves from the opening beats into something truly awesome.
The Whip have done an exemplary job of upping the ante, with even the worst songs on Wired Together topping some of the best on X Marks Destination. The group's standouts include “Secret Weapon,” “Movement,” and “Best Friend.” But if you want something to get you through your morning commute, throw on “Master of Ceremonies” and float to work on a cloud of sonic beauty. Wired Together is a huge step in the right direction.
Released September 2011 on Southern Fried Records.