Compact Review: White Denim’s Stiff

White Denim – Stiff
Released: March 25, 2016
Rating: 83/100


I’ve recently rekindled a forgotten passion: driving around with the windows down and music blaring. Through my teenage years and early twenties, this was a daily occurrence but over the past few years most of my commutes have been soundtracked by an ever growing repertoire of podcasts and driving around blasting a podcast isn’t really a thing. About a month ago, I stumbled upon White Denim’s seventh studio album Stiff on a long night time drive home from the opposite corner of Phoenix’s vast sprawl. The windows went down. The volume went up. Bliss.

On Stiff, White Denim’s modern take on 70s FM radio rock fuses bits of blues, punk and soul into a nostalgic collage of guitar fueled joy. The album opens with a decidedly creepy harmony of “Oh we’re gonna have music” before exploding into a hot swirl of guitar riffs and crashing percussion. Channeling the ghosts of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Allman Brothers Band, Bad Company and their contemporaries, White Denim waste no time reminding the listener that rock music can be fun and accessible without sacrificing quality. The best song on Stiff is titled “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)” and the chorus urges us all to be ourselves and try to have a good time. I love modern alt rock but even the best stuff can be an oppressively gloomy slog sometimes. Sometimes I just want to be myself and try to have a good time. Hahahaha yeah!

My feelings toward this record are certainly shaped in part by my nostalgia for cross country family road trips with classic rock soundtracks but Stiff flawlessly captures the spirit of those journeys. Road trip music requires energy, variety and a chorus that’s easy to sing along to and this album has it all. From the roaring rock numbers like “Mirrored In Reverse” and “Had 2 Know (Personal)” to the dreamily soulful tracks like “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)”, Stiff is a diversely entertaining record that is effortlessly lovable. Next time you’ve got somewhere to be and you’re in no rush to get there, roll the windows down, crank the volume and take Stiff for a ride.

Top Tracks: “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)”, “Mirrored In Reverse”, “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)”

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