Two years after his most recent release, Carry the Ghost, Noah Gundersen is back with a vulnerable and brilliant collection of songs. A brutally honest album filled with notes of love, lust, and existential fear, White Noise is the perfect blend of intimacy and universality. Whether he is being symbolic or literal (this is a heavily symbolic album), Gundersen finds the balance between all of the highs and lows we experience in this life, weaving them together into an intricate and chaotic story about the human condition.
The album starts off with a slow build-up into the first single, “The Sound”. These two seamless tracks act as an introduction to the album. While they don’t resonate as much as some of the later tracks, they still leave the listeners wanting to hear more. A standout track on the front half of the album, “Heavy Metals” echoes beautifully with its emotionally charged lyrics about how we live, love, and learn. It begs questions about who we are and what our purpose is, with lyrics such as “Only human, after all / Every impulse calls” and “Hold your breath, count to 10 / You’ve got a lot to learn” ringing over a melodic and reverb-heavy instrumental track.
The album picks up speed as it progresses with “Number One Hit of the Summer (Fade Out)”, a radio-ready indie hit. In this track, Gundersen asks, “Is this the good life you were imagining? / Tied up and tired of everything”, a question that feels present throughout the duration of the album. Despite its relatable lyrics, the song isn’t a track that stands out in any way. Though it seems to be one of the less memorable tracks on the album, it finds its place on White Noise by bringing an upbeat intermission, per se, to a generally dark album.
The upbeat, summery vibe doesn’t last long — “Cocaine Sex and Alcohol (From a Basement in Los Angeles)” is dark both musically and lyrically, capturing the fear and anxiety we all encounter in our lives. Gundersen repeatedly begs, “Everyone’s watching / Get me out / Out of the light,” the emotional instrumentals tugging at the listeners heartstrings as he projects his anxiety through this song. The second half of the track takes a sharp turn from its melodic introduction, becoming dark and unpredictable. It takes the listener on a confusing downward spiral as Gundersen mutters, “I’ve got all this alcohol… do you wanna see my show?” In a way, it projects his fears onto the listener and makes them feel as disoriented as he does.
There seems to be no limit to Noah Gundersen’s musical capability. From indie hits to experimental ballads, each track on White Noise brings its own emotional complexities both musically and lyrically. “Fear & Loathing” is one of the most raw and honest tracks this album has to offer. Acoustic guitar paired with Gundersen’s incredible vocals and gut-wrenching storytelling capabilities come together to form one of the most memorable tracks on White Noise.
White Noise becomes slightly more predictable after “Fear & Loathing”, but that’s not to say it loses any of its punch. The second half of the album is brooding and dark, with an emotional depth so captivating you won’t want to come up for air. Gundersen shares his most intimate desires, allowing the listener to connect with his music. He softly sings in “New Religion”, “All I want is something to love / All I want is someone to love me.” It’s truthful lines like these that make this album feel both intimate and universal.
The final track, “Send the Rain (To Everyone)”, is a perfect close to this album. It feels like a proper farewell, with Gundersen singing passionately “Send my love to everyone” repeatedly. Overall, this album is one full of heart. The universal themes resonate, with raw honesty and a soft vulnerability echoing throughout the album. White Noise is a heartfelt and sincere album that allows listeners to connect to the universal themes it discusses of pain, fear, love, lust, and desire.
Indie Folk | Cooking Vinyl America