This article was first published on Louder Than War on 16 July 2013.
Whitemoor – Horizons (Sound-Hub Recordings)
CD / DL
The sophomore album from Derbyshire band Whitemoor sees their sound swell, but does it deliver?
The second album from Whitemoor – Horizons – is, as the title may suggest, a widening of both sound and intention for the band. It’s got a vastness about it, uncluttered but in no way sparse, and a sense that this is a band only just beginning to work out how they fill all that space.
Album opener and recent single High Lights sets the tone well for what is to follow – a big blast of stadium-sized sound.
By track three, On Top of the World, the band is using the shimmering synths and bouncing beats to form a brilliant and catchy electro backing for the rock vocal.
Recent influences come in throughout – the likes of Foals, Coldplay and Passion Pit are all nodded at with the orchestration and darker mix of electro rock. But on Embers it’s an earlier sound breaking through: the ’80s pop sound of Duran Duran makes itself felt as the riffs lead the charge and the edge is smoothed off the vocal. There’s no question of sounding dated though – Whitemoor own this track, the whole album, and their own musical personality wins over any influence.
With singles opening and closing the album (High Lights and This Is…) they also stick one in the middle and All I’ve Ever Known becomes a pivotal moment. It’s got a soar and fall verse to chorus that will make your insides tingle, finding a soundtrack to that pause before the rollercoaster succumbs to gravity. But that’s not enough – they add a spectral backing to a fast talking rap (by the featured Motormouf) to bring in something unexpected yet entirely fitting.
There’s some good hooks and creative riffs, not to mention some ambitious orchestration but all of this only comes through with successive listens. There is a certain sheen to the album as a whole which at first glance blinds you to the detail. The pay off is worth the perseverance though as there’s creativity behind the dazzle and there’s not a filler on the album.
But essentially this is a pop band playing a rock record, going textbook with orchestral swells and shiversome drum falls. It’ll be too clean for many but there’s catchy moments a-plenty and certainly the foundations to build on their stadium rock intentions.
All words by Sarah Lay.