I was sent this record, one of the first actually sent to me with the intent to be reviewed in years. I at first was looking at it almost with a level of excitement, something about cracking back into something I’d grown accustomed to, an aesthetic that I sort of attempted to hone down to a stroke by stroke science. which then got me to the next phase of emotion about it: The Labor. there’s often a strange divide that occurs between what I enjoy with a casual ear and what I enjoy with my critical ear. and that weight can often feel unbearable, despite my knowledge that that divide exists. I ate the feeling, found some free time and threw this record on. I listened while my day was organically unfolding.
one thing that I can say about the first track, “Hand in Hand” is that I was singing the hook along with the track before it ended. I can stamp complete and utter quality on a song instantly if it can get this kind of grip on me. and it has the strange quality of getting me completely invested in the band’s intention and song writing ability if I see that they understand the value of a hook and how to craft a song around the power of just that. but there’s also something to be said for a song like “It’s Hard Sometimes” which consists of a very classic structure, and a very strong driving sound reminiscent of (I almost hesitate to say it) the beatles.
The Whiskey Violets have a very smart sound. they don’t overstep their allowance and exist almost exclusively in a contemporary and pop sound, but they flourish enough to let you see into their musical ability strengthened by their indie and 90s emo sound. there are some masked guitar bends and chord work reminiscent of the kinsellas to be found, most prevalently on the interlude of track six which doesn’t warrant itself a title in the track listing, but stands out as a banner to their capabilities.
this is a tough record not to enjoy. it takes no massive chances, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t pull from a very diverse and incredible spread of talent. what stands out most is jon nistal’s consistent, smooth vocals which do a lot more to serve the song than his ability has done in his previous projects (long islanders may remember chance of a lifetime or dakota grace). and with the growth of his range and application, it’s clear that this new project is one that’s got the most space and room for its wings to spread and take off into a more widespread audience. this record is pure quality.