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The Whitsundays

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Album Review

Two-fifths of Edmonton, Alberta's Whitsundays are also the rhythm section of the LCD Soundsystem-like electro-dance group Shout Out Out Out Out, a crossover notable mostly because the two bands have almost nothing in common otherwise. Named, somewhat inexplicably, after a chain of islands along Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays belong alongside modern-day pillagers of vintage pop like the Shins or Belle & Sebastian. On first listen, a rather annoying production choice — singer/songwriter Paul Arnusch's vocals are bathed in echoey reverb on nearly every song — nearly overwhelms the charms of the songs themselves. Listening past that, it's clear where Arnusch's influences lie — the intimate, whispery vocals and splashy electric piano solos of "Falling Over" and "The Ways of the Sweet Talking Boys" are straight out of the Zombies playbook, and the vocal arrangement of the knowingly self-abasing "It Must Be Me" is 100 percent Pet Sounds pastiche, right down to the choral-round coda — but interestingly, the further the Whitsundays move from that sound, the less interesting the songs get. "Antisocial," for example, is an unconvincing stab at a punky garage rocker, which is immediately topped by the far superior "Sorry James," a minor-key character study in alienation set against an ironically upbeat and jaunty bassline. The Whitsundays is an unapologetically derivative record, but the way that it doesn't pretend to be anything more than a modern indie rock recasting of some of Arnusch's favorite old records makes it hard to fault: as mildly plagiaristic pop records go, this one's really quite good.


Formed: Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Edmonton, Alberta's the Whitsundays embrace a sound that takes several pages from the book of '60s sunshine pop and light psychedelia while also referencing contemporary indie pop. The Whitsundays' membership nods to the group's eclectic approach -- lead singer and principle songwriter Paul Arnusch is also a member of acclaimed dream pop combo the Faunts and post-punk revivalists the Floor, while bassist Lyle Bell and drummer Clint Frazier divide their time between the Whitsundays and frenetic electronic...
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The Whitsundays, The Whitsundays
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