On 2008’s spectacular “Mission Control,” The Whigs showcased their range with various nods to the past 40 years of rock and roll. On their new album, the Athens, Georgia, trio is more settled on a sound, but that focus allows them to provide a deeper, richer experience at several points.
Lead single “Kill Me Carolyne” summarizes where The Whigs are coming from this time around. The infectious uptempo track is awash in New Wave, with frontman and guitarist Parker Gispert channeling Devo, in particular. I don’t think the song’s made them big rock stars, but it’s not for lack of trying. The dance-y beat on “I Am for Real,” meanwhile, is straight out of the Franz Ferdinand playbook. Svelte, soaring guitars and urgent work on the high-hat from drummer extraordinaire Julian Dorio are the rule on much of this record.
Most of the brawny cuts breeze by in less than four minutes, but the changes of pace are handled well, too. “Dying” is an effectively murky turn right in the middle of the album, while “Naked” closes things out on a spacious note.
There are no bad tracks on “In the Dark,” even though some tend to blur a bit if you’re not paying close attention. There’s no mistaking “Someone’s Daughter,” though, the heaviest track on the record by far and a surefire standout. Opener “Hundred/Million” is my favorite cut on the disc, as much for its lyrical content as anything. In it Gispert muses about having “a hundred million people in my mind,” which rings true for me. In an age when we’re bombarded with opinions at every turn from social media and 24-hour news, sometimes it’s a struggle to break free and actually think for yourself. “Hundred/Million” woke me up to that idea, and it’s stuck with me since the first time I heard it.
The Whigs are three-for-three now. While not quite as good as the last album, “In the Dark” is nevertheless one of my favorites of the year.
Favorite Track: “Hundred/Million”