It’s hard to figure out the point of a band like White Rabbits. Obviously the fact you’re trying to figure it out at all precludes the asking of certain, important philosophical questions – questions like “Can music have a point?” and, if so, “What is it?” While these posers aren’t for here – ‘here’ being an album review, rather than some existential near-distance – you might assume that, if music does have a point, it’s to elicit some intimate response, a kind of ache that otherwise would not have existed. This is where the ‘point’ of a band like White Rabbits seems to wilt, because It’s Frightening doesn’t seem concerned with provoking anything other than a passing interest in its neatly assembled, but ultimately tedious indie-rock.
A case in point: two drummers lurk among White Rabbits’ six members. Usually when rock bands have two drummers the results are explosive and full of primal fire; but here, save for the opening rat-a-tat of first track Percussion Gun (a rip of new-wave troupe Bow Wow Wow’s debut single C30, C60, C90 Go!), one drummer or the other is at all times completely redundant. As such, it feels like a swindle, something to make you think there’s more drama here than there actually is. White Rabbits err always with caution – just when you suspect Rudie Fails (think George Michael’s Too Funky, but with less sex and more piano) might be about to branch off into some cosmic, choral hinterland, they pull the track back and stack go-nowhere verses atop it 'til the song collapses in a matted tangle of leftover Pavement and Coldplay melodies.
At this point, it’d be nice to choose some highlights – It’s Frightening certainly isn't the most offensive album you’ll ever hear. It’s skillfully arranged, and White Rabbits (along with Spoon’s Britt Daniel, who helped write and produce the album) are clearly competent songwriters. Too competent, in fact – you leave It’s Frightening with no loose ends of your own to tie up, imagination thwarted by the band’s taste for smooth and peaceful resolution. With no troughs, no peaks, no dilemmas or drama, all you have is mediocrity.
With It’s Frightening, White Rabbits have stumbled upon the thing that perhaps most frightens us all: the idea that we’ll disappear into the air having left no trace of our existence, goaded no response from another human being. You're left, finally, with the idea of pointlessness. --Kev Kharas
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