Melbourne trio White Walls? debut album opens with a run of songs as strong as any side one I’ve ever heard, a glorious deluge of noisy indie rock/pop. The seven minutes of opener ?For the Time Being? lays out the menu for you: dense layers of messed-up guitars, playing apparently simple lines. As the song moves on, though, you notice just how well they are woven together – very well, and with a huge load of other stuff going on as well. At times the band seem almost desperate to cram in notes, beats, stray chords and tempo changes. There is straight riffing, some feedback and a bit of plain vanilla Telecaster strum. All this without the songs falling into a heap or sounding at all bloated.
?There’s Nothing Left? skitters along, slightly more restrained. ?Cell? is built on a choppy break layered with fuzz, moving from mini-crescendo to mini-crescendo at its own assured pace. There is a more melancholy feel to ?Transmission?. ?Hey? is a beautiful slacker throwback, with a ringing motif that flares into dirty fuzz diversion partway through. That’s the first few; the rest are just as good. The whole thing flows seamlessly while altering in mood all the time. There is nothing too abrupt or spiky here, with the exception of the screaming wig-out in the second last track, ?Accept/Regret?, which sets up the closing ?Clearlight? perfectly.
This album was mastered by Mikey Young, which might be considered some sort of a) a big deal, or b) a supposed indicator of what they may sound like. Whatever else he’s done here, there doesn’t seem to be a single “natural” sound on this record. Guitars are overdriven and distorted, the bass comes across as deep and heavy as a concrete ocean and the drums – especially the cymbals – have been tweaked to rifle-shot crispness. Vocal are often murmured in a blur, but that’s OK, you get the gist.
Some have called White Walls neo-psychedelic, but I would just call this fine music to drink gin to, and leave it at that. Those who wish to won’t have to look far to find traces of Sonic Youth, Jesus & Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr. or a host of other legendary guitar punishers from the past lurking in this album. I’d be interested to know if the band – who look to be in their early 20s – have even heard any of that stuff. They are supporting Mascis and company at the Corner Hotel in March, though, which should be interesting for both parties.