Squid The Whale - Four More
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: January 30th, 2013
With an acclaimed EP, a well-received single and an Adele cover under their belt, Squid The Whale should have headed into LP territory...right?
Wrong. Rather than go for broke, the Detroit Four opted to keep tinkering, honing their sound through the oh-so-literal Four More. The resulting 15 minutes show a band well on their way, displaying growth and refinement while significantly upping the ante.
Every strength from Squid The Whale's back catalog has been harnessed, emphasized and bundled into a more concise package. The rawness that rocked 2011's New War. and the flair from their Worrisome Voyage... days are back, but gift-wrapped in massive hooks à la the vastly improved Bradley Walden. Whereas the smooth singer previously relied on vocal acrobats to carry tunes, Walden now utilizes tight, well-crafted melodies to get his point across in expert fashion. Right out of the gate, Bradley unleashes the best chorus of his career in "Bad Man," taking two simple lines and blowing them out - only to outperform himself two songs later. "How Do I Show These Cowboys I'm Alive?" snaps, crackles, and pops in the best way possible, even before Gatsbys American Dream vocalist Nic Newsham puts a bow on it. Add Daniel Jay's always-groovy rhythms, Jonathan Wagoner's hard-hitting and Brandon Kubiac's eclectic guitar-work to that starpower and you're bound to wake the neighbors.
With the other half of Four More, the boys venture into unfamiliar territory with varying success. Few would have expected a piano ballad from the band, but "Drown Pt. II" fully deserves every cliche buzzword used to describe slow songs ("gorgeous" and "haunting" come to mind). The chemistry between Walden and the guesting Lisa Vitale is palpable, bearing emotion and slowly building into a climactic call-and-response without ever feeling contrived. While the ballad and aforementioned hits are expertly paced, the same can't be said for the closer "Warden Sings The Blues" - an out of place dragger that's not of the same caliber than its cohorts. It's not bad, but it's not of the quality displayed in the previous three tracks.
After countless listens to Four More, all I want from Squid The Whale is four more. Then four more. The band should consider the EP format conquered and head towards longer releases. Until then, we'll enjoy the jams and watch Squid rise past other up-and-comers.