Whirr - Sway (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Sway (2014)


Whirr have clearly defined where they want to go. Around steered them in a more dissonant and darker direction, limiting any pop sensibility or lighter tones that may have been attached to records past. One year later, Sway is the exclamation point that they're bent on, swimming in more dreary atmospheres while meshing an emotionally taxing shoegaze vibe with heavy post—punk narratives. How does it all come off? Disarming at times, heavy at others, yet it's a driven record. While not without its flaws, Sway definitely gives them a new dimension and something more solid to cling to.

The record's very distorted with most of the music drowning out the lyrics. The lyrical style is more hushed and lax, but all in all, there's a unique aesthetic at hand. It brings a lot of their older music into perspective because here Whirr feels like they're at their most unconventional — in terms of musical structure that is. The first few opening tracks highlight this, particularly "Mumble". To reemphasize, these tracks feel shadowy and very haunting. "Dry" is another such song. What they do help to do also is animate just how painstaking the ambiance is but in doing so, you feel a sense of abstract art at hand. Is it a concept album or not? After a few listens, I lean to the former.

What further clarifies this for me is the one—word titles of the tracks. They link together as a series of emotions and actions that chain up as depressed. The cymbal—crashing "Clear" and swoony title—track really take pace off the record and nod back to the older pop/melodic elements they churned out at times and while a lot of those elements don't make it to this album, their presence is felt in subtle doses. At times, it feels like the love—child of Alcest and Deafheaven but more relaxed and pensive. At this juncture, the emotional rollercoaster of the record sets in. There's a deep sense of anxiety in the music.

Sway unfolds very dramatically and ends up being broody, not to mention highly contemplative. Some tracks are a tad too long and sometimes, it drags. It lacks life in certain key areas that you know the older sound of the band would have amped things up a notch. These time—stamps though, feel like part of a collective message, that no matter what couldn't be tinkered with and I can appreciate that. Why? Because it helps me realize how deliberate the record is. Musically and lyrically, is this their best work to date? No. But it's definitely a great focal point for fans of old, and new, to latch onto. It's got something for everyone and with a bit more fleshing out, I can see Whirr really delivering big time come the next EP. They've always had these big hits in them. Let's see where they go from here. They should be maximizing their potential even bigger by now, but they get off the hook because they're not afraid to explore and they leave you feeling like a new chapters soon to come— One you'll enjoy. Hopefully, they experiment even more and toy with new music to give a bit more insight as to where the road leads.