Weathervanes


Band: Freelance Whales
Album: Weathervanes
Best song: “Starring” is really nice, “Hannah” is fucking brilliant. “Kilojoules” is good. “Location” isn’t bad.
Worst song: “We Could Be Friends” is mediocre.

Effort is really nice in a band, but “trying too hard” is definitely something no one wants to cop. A lot of modern “indie” bands do this, but many do it with aplomb. Still, that disctinction is a fine line that no one quite understands.

I’ve written, many places, of my love for Sufjan Stevens. But, the notion of bands mimicking his style is, at best, a little difficult to process. Stevens’ clear influence on Annie Clark’s records is lovely, but a lot of lesser bands do that quirky thing, uh, not well.

This is sorta where the Freelance Whales come into the picture. Weathervanes isn’t the worst thing to ever come from Brooklyn, but it’s very typical. The common comparisons to the Arcade Fire are so very lazy, as the androgynous vocals and slightly-left-of-center instruments do not hold a candle to the Montreal band’s heart and songwriting (latest album not withstanding).

As such, Weathervanes is the sorta lesser version of so many bands. It’s got a Broken Social Scene vibe, but without the intelligence. It’s got Stevens’ flair for the dramatic and the pop sensibilities of the Postal Service (“Starring” sounds so very much like a Dntel song), but without the catchiness of the hooks. So very many handclaps (“Kilojoules” sounds like a Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin song).

With all that said, “Hannah” is one of the greater songs on the record and one of the best songs of 2010. It’s a lovely little love song about the sky, ceilings and stairs, complete with a nice hook.

But, like Pandora and the like, the Freelance Whales seem to have some sort of indie-by-numbers algorithm that’s just quite off. It’s paint by numbers, only the sky is orange. It feels weird. But, a mostly good weird.

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