One of the best things about listening to an artist is seeing how their sound develops over time. Hearing an artist’s sound evolve from album to album is truly a special thing. Sometimes, however, an evolution can sound more like a fall back than a step forward.
Chicago duo Whitney is famous for their wistful falsetto vocals and warm instrumentals. They make indie that incorporates folk and country, topped off with soul.
I was excited to see that they started releasing singles in June for an upcoming project. “REAL LOVE” was the first in a string of five singles that would release before the record.
Sadly, most of the songs released before the album left me desiring something more. Something I was hoping I would be able to hear at the album’s release.
The first thing I noticed about each song on “SPARK” was the incredible production. The synths, strings and horns, which Whitney has utilized before, are on full display for these songs. At its peak, the production of each song truly melts in your ears.
However, I cannot help but feel like these peaks are few and far between on Whitney’s new record. It seems the sacrifice for the clear, crisp production of this album was a lack of variety and songs that die out before the halfway point.
A big problem I have noticed with many of the songs on this record is they are very front-heavy. Songs like “SELF” or even “REAL LOVE” (which I still admittedly like a lot) start with a strong premise but instead of building on that premise, they plateau.
This isn’t to say the new Whitney album is all bad. “BLUE” is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs by the band. On the slower, more melancholic songs, like “COUNTY LINES” the high-quality production is at the forefront and sounds great.
There’s something about this album that makes me want to like it more than I do. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m such a fan of their first few albums. It could also be that when this album is at its peak, it sounds excellent. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hit that peak enough.
In “SPARK”, instead of evolving into a new and original sound, Whitney falls into a sound that highlights many of the band’s shortcomings. While there are highlights, if Whitney continues to make music in this vein, I hope they increase the variety within and songwriting of their tracks.
I fully believe Whitney is capable of doing this. I think that if they can get a better grasp on this new sound, they could release their best album yet.