Even more than on last year’s auspicious digital-only Exposion, Austin’s White Denim stomp down the fine line between fertile versatility and iffy uncertainty. More often than not on Fits, this works out awesome. Part of the reason it’d be wrong to yield to the temptation to pen them in with other roving gangs of garage reformists like the Black Lips, or even their townmates the Strange Boys, is that White Denim seem more interested in messy accidental absorption than homage or transformation — it’s a factor that doesn’t do them any favors in the continuity department, but at least it makes the visual of the band name more appropriate.
They siphon as shamelessly from the Doors’ psych tropes as from Creamy riffage or Steve Miller buddy rock — imagine the middle third of your FM dial transmitted all at once through kids on light drugs in extreme heat. It’s hard to tell what sound vocalist James Petralli calls home: one minute he’s a-swirl in boy-down-a-well reverb (“All Consolation”), the next he’s boy-in-a-balloon wistful (“Mirrored and Reverse”), and then he’s approximating Jeff Buckley (“I’d Have It Just the Way We Were”), and then, Devendra (“Regina Holding Hands”).
The music is all over the map as well (albeit a map of the South), with barfighting guitars on “Say What You Want,” the peyote tantrum (en español) of “El Hard Attack,” and the interstate screamer “I Start To Run” — which makes you wonder how Kings of Leon would sound if the brothers weren’t all operating off the same set of nuts. This is not an album for those who crave clarity — it’s for those desperately trying to avoid it. Besides, what fun is knowing what you want?