Whirr’s new album is only four tracks long, and falls awkwardly in between an EP and an LP. At 28 minutes or so, it’s roughly the length of some punk albums, but shorter than many of their other albums. This is, unintentionally, symbolic of the album’s awkward placement in between genres, blurring together metal, noise rock and shoegaze into that pumps up the volume but often hangs around longer than it needs to.
The four tracks on “Around” range from 5:53 to 8:47, much longer than the average songs on Whirr’s previous albums. The band is trying out more of a shoegaze sound, possibly inspired by the crazy work being done by crossover geniuses Deafheaven. Shoegaze is an incredibly tough genre of music to pull off, because it requires patience on both the band and the listener. A band has to maintain a sound, even a note, for a long time at maximum volume, without it becoming monotonous. There’s a reason there aren’t many famous shoegaze acts. Whirr don’t exactly pull it off. The songs stretch on too long, ideas too thought-up. The volume is there, and the gloomy, bleak guitars from their previous albums support the ideas. But there isn’t quite enough to keep in interesting.
The third track, “Keep,” is the album’s best, because of a volume change roughly 3:30 into the song. A subdued and constant sound is suddenly dropped out, and guitars kick back in much louder than before. It is this long, drawn out sound with the occasional hiccups that makes acts like Deafheaven and Godspeed You! Black Emperor the inspirational acts they are. The song transitions into the title track, in one long song that would’ve been too daunting and too long to release as one actual track. “Around,” just like the first two tracks, overstays it’s volume, staying quieter for its seven minutes.
I have to commend the band for attempting to blend genres like this. They do a pretty decent job, considering all of the conflicting elements. The songs just stick around too long. The volume, the guitars and the ideas are all there and great, but there’s actually just a little too much of it. If Whirr were to keep exploring this idea, though, I’d keep listening.
-If you like this try: Deafheaven’s “Sunbather.” I’ve already linked to my review a few times before.
-By Andrew McNally