Freelance Whales - Weathervanes
Record Label: Frenchkiss / Mom & Pop Records
Release Date: April 13, 2010
"Read it again! Read it again, Auntie!"
I, then four years old, was begging for another bedtime reading of Where the Wild Things Are as my aunt closed the book. She shot me a look, one that clearly said, "Really? You'd like me to read Where the Wild Things Are for a fourth time?". Sure, four readings is excessive and one might say I was, as every four year old aspires to, just wanting to stay up a little later. But I was transfixed by this world of Wild Things. It's the same wonderment of kids watching a magic trick before they get old enough to complain and try to decipher how the trick was done, or the amazement of being amongst impossibly tall skyscrapers in the city. As I have gotten older, one reading of any book suffices and the feeling of true enchantment is a hard thing to come by anymore, but enchantment is about the only feeling to describe the debut full-length of Freelance Whales, Weathervanes.
One would guess the combining of electronic pop in the likeness of Postal Service with Dan Hunter singing/thrown in (yes, this is the area where a "Oh, Jason Tate would hate this band" or "is it pop-punk?" joke should be placed), breezy folk in the vein of Sufjan Stevens, and slight ambiance-rock made famous by Sigur Ros is a slightly off-kilter mix, but Freelance Whales push through thirteen songs mixing all of the aforementioned with ease and originality to make the sound all their own. The album opens with "Generator (First Floor)", appropriately whirring to life with noise until banjo and bells dance along and turn the song into a happy worker's chant. Singer Judah Dedone's youthful, almost wistful vocals are what pushes the entire record, nevermind the song, into a sound that will have anyone smiling and nodding along without control.
The second track "Hannah" has Dedone spewing lines that rhyme "player-hater" and lemon Now and Laters amidst Microkorg bleeps and boops, creating an almost surreal experience for someone who expects this hipster-approved band to cover their music in vague metaphors befitting their mystical sound. The beautiful fact I found about this band early on is this isn't the typical hipster band that will appeal just to the NPR-listening set of Pitchfork editors. Weathervanes appropriately utilizes the band's many instrumental and musical talents, which include the use of glockenspiels, harmoniums, and waterphones (I honestly had to look the last one up; I still do not understand how it works), but ends up with a sound that could easily be on any alt-rock radio station's rotation, especially the electro-poppy, "Starring" and "Generator (Second Floor)". The band still proves to show some quirkiness though, especially on the latter "Generator", which bustles along merrily like it's predecessor with the added sounds of pots clanging, stretching noises, televisions turning on, and endless tinkering of glass bottles, allowing the listener to imagine the band recording in a back room of the Hogwarts castle or someplace comforting and abnormal rather than in a Brooklyn studio. The band, although largely carrying a gleeful feeling throughout their record, slows things down occasionally for a more somber side of their sound, most noted on instrumental tracks, songs like "Broken Horse" and the perfect-for-sunset-driving "Location". Their slower songs still are by no means bad, but shows the only downfall of the album, as it comes off as simple background music rather than upbeat pop that fills much of the album and keeps the listener's attention.
The band almost certainly will win fans amongst those waiting for a light, folk-pop album for springtime. But overall, Weathervanes is a fantastic starting ground for what could become a great, highly-talented band live and in studio. It almost feels wrong trying to characterize and critique their music, as this record is for those just wanting a record trying to embody happiness and not impress the artsy crowd. And, for those positivity-seekers, enchantment-wishers, the skyscraper admirers, and even for the Wild Things, Weathervanes most definitely is the soundtrack for joy in 2010.
I absolutely love this album. Although I have recently picked up the new EOTC, i cant help but continue to play this cd as i walk around campus. It makes me want to close my eyes and just dream of the world these guys have musically created.