As winter closes in, Whitney’s sun-dappled songs about love and loneliness are here to keep us warm.
The two core members of Whitney – former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich – got together in 2015. Supporting each other through the transitional period of their mid-twenties, the pair’s bond was the one constant in a time of uncertainty. Putting it to creative use, they went on to release one of the best-received records of 2016.
Somewhere between 70’s soft rock and contemporary indie, Light Upon the Lake featured 10 easygoing, gently melancholic tunes about the ups and downs of long-term relationships. Comprised of honeyed guitars, swooning horns and strings and Ehrlich’s Neil Young-esque falsetto, the album’s aching lead single ‘No Woman’ has to date racked up a pretty remarkable 41m plays on Spotify.
The follow-up record, released back in August, didn’t so much change the formula as enrich it. The production is tighter now, and the arrangements fuller, but Whitney have essentially opted to remain in the addictive little niche that their first album carved out. With understated perfectionism, Forever Turned Around – like its predecessor – navigates questions of love, friendship and doubt in a way that burrows deep into your own sense of nostalgia.
Opener ‘Giving Up’ sets the tone with a musically buoyant, lyrically yearning ode to a relationship in which two people are slipping out of sync. “Though we started losing touch / I’ve been hanging on because / You’re the only one I love”, Ehrlich sings over twinkling piano. The penultimate track, ‘Friend of Mine’, is another honeysuckle tune about two people drifting apart. Full of effortlessly catchy guitar hooks and gorgeous vocal melodies, it encapsulates an album so successfully built on the idea that simple is best.
The warm-and-fuzzy feeling that Whitney’s music inspires is exactly what we need as Manchester’s mean winter closes in. Don’t miss them at Albert Hall this November.