After being pulled into the outside world by the auspicious hand of Jack White, who produced their 2003 V2 debut, the Grand Rapids drums-bass-synth trio Whirlwind Heat seems intent on letting us know that they’re down with the cool kids on the East Side. For Flamingo Honey, the group employs Detroit pop darling Brendan Benson to watch them beat off while they make a “concept record.” Here’s the setup: With but a cocksure gleam in their eyes, an idea in their heads and presumably a large bottle of lube, Whirlwind Heat marched into Benson’s Grand Studio, wrote and recorded 10 one-minute ditties in a mere five hours, then walked back out. Question is: How could they see to drive home?
Granted, most bands would get in their cars with a CDR full of pure tommyrot under similar conditions; but thanks to a brazen prolificity, Whirlwind Heat makes out better than expected under this conceited conceit. Opening is “The Bone,” essentially a groovy verse that’s ripe to explode into a massive chorus; but because of applicable rules, it ends before it gets the chance. “The Meat Packers” is appropriately spazzy — the band’s calling card — but lacks a reference point. In fact, with the exception of “A Worm’s Coat,” which shoehorns in a verse-chorus-verse structure almost in spite of its length, the songs are merely ideas that, given the chance to blossom, could have made for an excellent — possibly even great — album. As is, though, the bishop is thoroughly flogged, and we’re left with the crusty Kleenex.
Jonathan Mahalak writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.