As a music fan it’s always nice getting to see a band really come into their own and release something great. For some time the Bay Area shoegaze band Whirr (formerly known as Whirl) was one of those bands that never really had that much of a personality. Yeah, the songs on their Distressor EP weren’t bad, but they didn’t give much of an idea as to who Whirl was. Now with a new name and a new record, the band has really shown what they’re capable of. Even better, they’ve done it with a bunch of quality tracks.
Pipe Dreams is a record that offers not just noisy guitars, but also serenity and mellowness. From the opening track “Reverse”, Whirr makes it clear they don’t want to be seen as just some loud dreampop act. The slow and calm guitar chords echo as the heavenly vocals of Alexandra Motley float towards you, much like a faraway dream. Towards the end of the track the instruments clash in a climax, however it never strays from its contained sound.
For those who like their songs to be swift and immediately attention-grabbing there is still something here for you. Tracks like “Junebouvier,” “Home is Where My Head is” and “Toss” quickly get the listener’s interest with their bouncy vocal melodies and the crunching guitar chords that the genre is known for. Of these tracks “Toss” is easily the one that gets in your head quickest. Showcasing a more fun, lighthearted side to their music, it’s reminiscent of a more lo-fi The Pains of Being Pure at Heart but never comes off as an imitation.
Whirr has the good luck of having Nick Bassett (of the metal band Deafheaven) as a guitarist. His work on the record is partly what gives it its unique feel. The slow and creeping feel of the guitars in “Flashback” and “Hide” shows off the band’s ability to include some versatility in their writing. The churning texture especially stands out when packed together with some more upbeat tracks, making it that much more effective.
The opening track is not the only place in which you’ll find Whirr being calm and mellow. The centerpiece of the record is “Formulas and Frequencies,” an acoustic ballad. Not many bands in the genre would be willing to try something like this, much less pull it off. However the track works wonders as a mid-record breather, and is truly proof that the band is more than just noise.
At the end of the day, Whirr has shown that they have the talent to write some great songs and create a great record. They are no longer that other dreampop band you listen to when you’re tired of the staples. Pipe Dreams is one of the finest records to come out in the genre so far, and will probably go on to be one of the finest records in the genre to come out in 2012. Whirr are on their way to good things and they’re going to make it there with this set of simply fantastic tracks.