By Gene Wagendorf III
White Mystery, in the most familiar of ways. Singer/guitarist Alex White and drummer Francis White have bashed out such a clear and electric identity that when they lean on their strengths they seem capable of effortlessly consistent fury. Francis brutalizes his kit while Alex lays down thick layers of gnarled guitar. The vocals are giddy, sometimes nonsensical yet still magnetic, almost empowering. When Alex paraphrases Dylan Thomas in a romper about pale arachnids I'm not quite sure what she's getting at but it's still getting me pumped up.
"Break A Sweat" rocks in a similar vein- a grinding, lick-filled rocker about the duo's experience opening for The Stooges (among others) at last year's Riot Fest. "San Francisco Dream" is a galloping jam that feels like a long lost Yardbirds tune, eventually bursting into a mosh of cymbal splashes and twisted strings. These songs are great, especially the latter, but what elevates Telepathic from being a good record to a special one are the moments where the band sheds their tried and true formula.
"Jungle Cat" sets the tone early on; a scathingly raw punk blitz featuring bent chords, manic drumming and riotous vocal work from Francis White. The chorus, which finds the siblings hollering "jungle cat rawr!" back and forth, is absurdly enjoyable and totally infectious. The tune highlights White Mystery's chemistry, sounding both hastily improvised and impossibly tight while maintaining the gut-punch quality of their live show. Equally enjoyable is "Buttheads From Mars," a comically simple stomper that sounds like it was written by a couple of seven-year-olds. Title track "Telepathic" is as catchy as it is nerve-wracking, chugging and trancing its way into a full on blues rock breakdown. White Mystery has always excelled at big sound, but that big sound has often been crammed with as much rock as any given moment will hold. "Telepathic" manages a big sound that has room to grow: the song only lasts a minute and fifty-seven seconds while seeming capable of jamming on ad infinitum.
Much as I enjoyed all the overproof madness on Telepathic, the song that stood out the most and the one that has me looking forward to future WM records is "Hey Shirley." The ballad seamlessly blends washes of fuzz and jingling bells for a quiet momentum that perfectly captures the classic '60s-rock sound. Alex harmonizes with herself through shimmering guitar work and shockingly subdued percussion, showing off a tenderness that I'd never really suspected the band was capable of. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Telepathic is that on it White Mystery manages to grow as a band while still providing plenty for fans of their previous records. Those few who haven't hopped the bandwagon yet (who are you and what the hell is wrong with you?): the time is now.
White Mystery's 'Telepathic' is available on vinyl and CD here and digitally here. You can catch WM live on Saturday, July 6th at Double Door with The Dyes ($8, 8pm, 21+). Get tickets here, and then listen to "Hey Shirley" below.