For their second album it’s like the Whigs went through my CD collection and decided to make a best-of compilation in their own words. On “Mission Control,” the Athens, Ga., trio take a whirlwind trip through the past three decades of rock and roll, delivering one of 2008’s best records in the process.
If you don’t like a particular track, just wait about three minutes because one song doesn’t sound anything like any other. It’s an astounding feat for one band to take so many sharp turns in so short a span (the album clocks in at less than 40 minutes) and still make it all work. I don’t pretend to know The Whigs’ actual influences, but here’s what these ears hear:
• “Already Young” is the best arena-ready rocker Pearl Jam never wrote.
• “Right Hand on My Heart” is a soaring drummer’s manifesto reminiscent of the Foo Fighters.
• Lead single “Like a Vibration” hearkens back to the hard-driving passion of Social Distortion.
• “I Never Want to Go Home” evokes the lilting style of Snow Patrol’s “Final Straw.”
• “Hot Bed” recalls the perfect pop/rock pitch captured by the La’s.
• “Production City” plays like an homage to The Clash.
Though not perfect (the twofer of “Sleep Sunshine” and “1,000 Wives” bogs down the middle a bit), “Mission Control” is a deep, wide-ranging rock record with hooks and melodies to spare. It’s one of my favorites in recent memory.
Favorite Track: “Right Hand on My Heart”
Least Favorite Track: “Sleep Sunshine”