Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Graveface Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Shoegaze
San Francisco’s Whirr are armed with a penchant for the melancholy. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing: the trepidatious musical styles of other acts in the genre is what Whirr stays away from; they push the envelope on something heavier and louder. Their new EP, Around, has all the emotive aspects of shoegaze mixed into a neat little package, with punching guitar sounds and big epic climaxes that give off a feeling of catharsis.
With four EPs, two split releases and one full-length album, all in the past two years no less, the Bay Area’s Whirr have churned out release after release of powerfully poignant and evocative shoegaze to rival not only their peers, but such stalwart torchbearers as My Bloody Valentine. By far their most jarring, daring and protracted work to date, Around is the kind of recording with lasting potential to survive it’s authors long after extinction. It’s an EP that takes its time to develop each nuanced chord and melody to a swelling perfection, without splitting hairs.
Whirr evolved slowly over the course of their initial releases. By the band's apex, on last year's Pipe Dreams LP, they'd emerged as a sophisticated and versatile group that could take dollops of '90s shoegaze, post-rock and noise pop, and apply them to variably heartbreaking methods: delightful, driving pop numbers ("Junebouvier," "Home Is Where My Head Is") or breathtaking mini-epics that leaned more towards ambience but retained clearly melodic sensibilities ("Reverse," "Formulas and Frequencies"). Around, however, might be their watershed moment.
Bay Area guitar-warpers Whirr slowly came into their own over the course of their earliest EPs and recordings, tapering off of a shoegaze revivalist sound leading up to the murky and molasses-slow four-song EP Around. Coming up with other 2010s bands indebted to the pedal-hopping textures of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Curve, and the like, Whirr's 2012 full-length Pipe Dreams showed a little more dynamism than many of their peers, opening up the instrumentation to go beyond the standard rock band layout and shifting in and out of uptempo jaunts of feedback and slowed-down stretches of dreaminess. Around takes things down several notches, turning in a consistently languid pace along with similar instrumentation and feel to each of the four tracks.
Whirr’s new EP Around is not an assertive work: the songs move with the forward momentum of a tortoise dosed with Benadryl, Kristina Esfandiari and Loren Rivera's vocals are nearly see-through, and the melodies a mere suggestion. Nonetheless, the Bay Area sextet engages the listener with classic, deal-closing salesmanship in the process: they tell you what they’re gonna say, they say it, and then they tell you what they just said. Start with their name, which was changed from the original “Whirl.” Recall their 2011 EP Distressor and 2012 debut LP Pipe Dreams, which were compared to basically every 90s shoegaze band you still listen to.