Whirr’s Sway doesn’t deviate from what they started on last year’s Around EP. That album replaced their debut’s more upbeat punk aesthetic, and gave us instead a curtain of dark melancholy. Slow, gray swaths of gothic dream pop and almost antagonistic, visceral shoegaze. Those songs were as brooding and heavy as anything you’d find on Joy Division’s classic downer Closer. So although Sway doesn’t stray too far from that epic and mournful gaze, it does kick up the heavy and in turn makes a stunning album of monolithic heaviness and headiness.
I can’t help but put Whirr in a category with contemporaries(and friends) Nothing and Deafheaven. Whirr shares with those two great bands that rare gift of making music within a genre that has been raped and pillaged by so many sub par bands over the years that it’s very easy to really screw things up. But when playing within the Kevin Shields/Slowdive/Ride playbook, Whirr not only get it right, they transcend that sound into something darker and far more beautiful than I think Shields ever imagined it could be. Whirr make shoegaze and dream pop for the kids that populated River’s Edge. “Press” opens Sway with a massive bang. It’s heavy and volatile, with the feeling it could explode at any moment. Drums are blanketed in reverb as Nick Bassett and Loren Rivera’s vocals twist and mingle like a Shields/Butcher cocktail. “Mumble” rumbles and moans like a tidal wave moving up from a cavernous depth. It has the momentum of the Cure in fine Disintegration form. Underneath the rather downtrodden mood there is a pulse in Whirr’s music. “Clear” moans underneath the blankets of reverb. It’s the voice of the weird kid looking for a purpose in a sea of static. “Sway” melts into the horizon like a long-burning day, while “Feel” ends the album like slow motion understanding. A connection made, reluctantly, to another lost soul.
There’s a dark romance and a feeling of unrequited love never fulfilled throughout Sway. You can easily get lost in its world. It’s a world painted in charcoal undertones and blood reds that wash out along the edges of a beat up, used canvas. This is music made by the punks that decided being mad wasn’t for them. Needless energy burnt on a thankless emotion. Whirr’s Sway is for the outcasts standing on the shoreline, still looking for a place of their own. Arms stretched out to a world that won’t have them.
8.8 out of 10