The White Eyes broaden the appeal of their glorious sonic assault.
Growing up isn’t easy. Well actually it’s pretty easy, it’s mostly a matter of waiting for time to pass. In growing up, everyone loves the people who can keep their youthful vigor in adulthood. Yet no one loves the people who keeps their youthful recklessness in adulthood. Our biggest hope is that as we age, we channel that youthful energy into something meaningful, something helpful, something explosive?
And now Taiwan’s The White Eyes have grown up, too. Have they focused their energies or let them dissipate? Are they reckless or rockin’? To answer that question, it’s helpful to know how we got here. The White Eyes formed in 2004, and their first widely available album, Kiss Your Eyes, was released in 2011. Sporting a provocative cover and track names like “Hardcore Porn Star”, their debut was a bit of a fireball, thanks in no small part to superstar vocalist Gao Xiaogao. The music coasted along on deliciously bratty attitude and a willingness to stir things up, at least moreso than, shall we say, refined song craft. Though a few years late, they were consistently hitting that sweet spot between post-punk and garage rock we all remember from early 00s NYC.
The album opens with the title track, “可笑的一天”, which will make veteran fans feel right at home with its hard charging rhythms and aggressive vocals. While the song sounds a bit tighter and fiercer than anything from Kiss Your Eyes, it is not a great departure either. The same goes with “死男孩”, electrifying yes, but the song has also been kicking around since 2011.
But then, starting with “刺蝟女”, the mystery of what the band has been doing since 2011 reveals itself: they’ve been expanding their sound and perfecting the art of crafting a darn fine tune. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “深海魚”. It might make you wish the band hadn’t given up on English because if it weren’t in Mandarin, it would have world-beating modern rock radio anthem of the summer written all over it. It’s structured perfectly to ease you into it into its melody before blasting you with an instrumental assault. It sounds not unlike Faye Wong wielding a flame thrower in the best possible way. It would be shocking if 2017 yields a bigger rush of pop smarts, powerful vocals, and fearsome band power.
Then, while you’re catching your breath, White Eyes come at you with “In Lust I Lost” a bliss-fest daydream of energetic longing. While “深海魚” may be the best all-around song, “Lust” definitely wins the award for the band’s best hook yet. This is the song to catch casual listeners who aren’t sure whether they’re ready for a band whose singer who once appeared on stage in a nude body suit.
The rest of the album is just dandy, but can’t reach the high highs of “刺蝟女”, “深海魚”, and “In Lust I Lost”. That’s not a blemish on the band’s record, though, considering how high those songs reach. Rather, the band is showing that they are more exciting moving outside of their Yeah Yeah Yeah comfort zone than looking back. So, while, they shouldn’t give up on their roots, there will be plenty to enjoy no matter where the White Eyes decide where to take us next.