Quick, do the math: if the album is 28 minutes long, how many songs use a guitar? Answer: 4. Now, if there are only 4 songs, are they long? Answer: yes. OK, you passed. But what are we talking about? Answer: Round, the EP by Whirr.
I can imagine no quicker description of this album than this: imagine My Bloody Valentine on a narrow Northern California beach, sandwiched between two cliff walls. Where MBV pummels your senses, Whirr asks politely if it might fill your ears with waves of shoegaze. Yes, you read it right: ‘ocean’, ‘ears’, and ‘shoes’ in one extended metaphor that describes almost nothing. And, to be perfectly fair, the MBV comparison comes from my own ignorance of wall-of-sound shoegaze bands. I can listen to Whirr, while MBV just doesn’t yet work for me. You are likely much smarter and can tell me who they really sound like. I want to know!
The band’s story circles around that of fellow San Francisco area band Deafheaven. When Deafheaven started out, they were understaffed and recruited Nick Bassett, songwriter and founder of Whirr, to join in. Deafheaven took off and then, a bit later, so, too did Whirr. Bassett left Deafheaven peacefully to focus on Whirr, always his top priority. Beyond that, I know very little about the band. They’re not hiding, but they also have yet to appear in their definitive “Behind the Music” career bio-pic. They look like this:
Opener ‘Drain’ brings you MBV with a more relaxed vibe making it listenable to my delicate ears. Need more intensity? Hold on for ‘Swoon’. Sounds of the Church join the delicate hazy assault in ‘Keep’ making a shoegaze ballad where some gentle murky vocal is either obscured or drowned by drums and guitars. Drums move forward and backward (just in volume, nothing fancy) while the shimmering noise just turns off and on. From there, all that’s left is the extended noise meditation of the title track, where it all comes together in a melancholy reverie. Is it love or obsession as the vocal repeats: “I want you around”?
In the end, this band features noisy textures that vary from mild to fully saturated by never hurt your ears. They bring diverse sounds that they weave together sometimes all at once, sometimes in turns. And, unlike too many other bands, Whirr is willing to stop in my own metro area (some time in August). Yes, this is a big city far from other big cities, but we’re nice and we like to be entertained. Whirr cares about us and so, in part, I choose to care about them.