After a debut riddled with ideas, but lacking any concrete direction, White Rabbits turned to Spoon's own Britt Daniel for assistance. The result was 2009's "It's Frightening," an album with far more focus, but less originality. In fact, with the exception of the explosive opener, "Percussion Gun," most of "It's Frightening" quickly drew comparisons to Spoon.
Now, nearly three years after "It's Frightening," White Rabbits have returned. This time, the majority of the production work was handed over to Mike McCarthy, Spoon's longtime producer.
The resulting sound is definitely more unique, but there is still plenty of Spoon mixed into "Milk Famous." What's interesting is that now, the Spoon influence seems to be more in the production itself instead of the songs.
Spoon is by no means the first or the 100th band to utilize double-tracked vocals, but White Rabbits more frequent use of falsetto coupled with the double-tracked vocal part on songs like "Heavy Metal" and "Temporary" will instantly have Spoon fans thinking of "I Turn My Camera On" from 2005's "Gimmie Fiction."
Those same tunes, however, are some of the most memorable on the album and will likely be what convinces fans to purchase this record.
What made tracks like "Percussion Gun" on White Rabbits' last record so enjoyable was the mixture of a memorable hook and Stephen Patterson's strong vocal delivery. Patterson's strained emphasis of certain words took an already excellent song and made it extraordinary.
The emotion heard in his voice, however, is somewhat lost on "Milk Famous." The doubled vocals mentioned previously give Patterson a more subdued tone which fits the more laid back nature of songs like "Hold It to the Fire" and "Are You Free," but on "Everyone Can't Be Confused" or "Danny Come Inside," fans familiar with White Rabbits' older material may find themselves begging Patterson to let loose.
What McCarthy's production style does do for "Milk Famous" is make it their most consistently strong record to date. "It's Frightening" had more potential stand-out singles, but "Milk Famous" is less likely to be criticized for containing any "filler material." From start to finish, "Milk Famous" is incredibly enjoyable even with continued comparisons to Spoon and a less dramatic vocal. In the band's weaker moments, the gaps left in the mix are filled by McCarthy's gift for unique and experimental frills as best seen on the track "It's Frightening," which has very little in common with the band's previous record by the same name.
"Milk Famous" finds White Rabbits hitting their stride after finally settling on a style, but most importantly, it shows how much potential this band truly has in the years to come. It's hard not to already get excited for White Rabbits' next record, but in the meantime, "Milk Famous" is a great place to start for listeners new to the band.
Track Suggestion: "Temporary"