Ten years on, White Denim applies the basics of rock and roll through an irrepressible attitude and a sound that consistently blends energy with exhilaration. Their tenth album Performance shares those traits, and given the fact that it marks ten years since the release of the band’s initial two outings, Workout Holiday and Exposition, it makes a significant statement about where the band’s been and how they’ve evolved up until now. The group, consisting of James Petralli (vocals, guitar), Conrad Choucroun (drums), Steven Terebecki (vocals, bass) and Michael Hunter (keyboards), have ploughed an adventurous path, adding elements of punk, psychedelia, garage rock and dub, while making their mark as heady indie insurgents.
Consequently, while the new album signals a willingness to ply more melody, they can hardly be considered a regimented bunch just yet. Indeed, on songs such as “Fine Slime” and “Good News,” those unhinged elements are still in play. Their’s is an insurgent sound that endures throughout, as evidenced by the determination of “It Might Get Dark” and the title track in particular. They may have tempered their tone, but their reckless, restless verbosity remains as instinctively defiant as ever.
Still, White Denim show some signs of compromise, as manifest in the reliably rocksteady sounds of “Backstreet Driver” and “Double Death,” as well as the pop pretext of “Magazin” and “Moves On.” “Sky Beaming” goes a step further, opting for an acoustic sheen that’s more embraceable than anything they’ve offered before. The accessibility factor is clearly in evidence, and for a band that made a habit of coloring outside the lines, it’s the clearest evidence yet that White Denim is actually willing to reach beyond its patented palette.
Granted, Performance may still be a bit of a challenge for those with more, shall we say, pedestrian tastes. There are enough quirks and curiosities imbedded in the mix to keep the mainstream at bay. Nevertheless, anyone opting for adventure will likely find that this particular Performance is promising indeed.