Wouldn't it be great if you could have the Zombies open up for the Beach Boys in your basement? That's, of course, an impossible dream -- but the Whitsundays at least create a similar vibe. There's been an avalanche of bands worshipping at the throne of Brian Wilson these past two decades, but every pop group with harmonies lazily gets thrown into this bag. Most of these bands explore (or exploit) Wilson's sunny side, forgetting about his dark awkwardness.
The Whitsundays completely deliver on dreamy melodies, "buh-buh-buh" choruses, and lyrics about lost love and chasing the sun. But things really get interesting via the dark and unexpected breakdowns that come at the end of some of these seemingly innocent pop songs. 'Want It All" is a sad sleeper about lovers living in a different time periods and sharing a different chemistry, even as the tune erupts into perfectly lush swirls of harmony. "Already Gone" exemplifies the band's sinister ways with the lyrics "I've always loved the sun, second to the moon."
Singer Paul Arnusch leads the Whits, utilizing ghostly vocals that are never over-powered by the group's bare-boned guitars. Even though the vocals are what draw the listener in, the real pulse here comes from the keyboards and Rhodes solos. A most intriguing debut.
Brian Hoekstra writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.