Cold is the night outside, but the noise that fills The Haunt‘s jet-black walls this evening evokes being behind the wheel on a sun-blasted afternoon in the heartland of America. Far away from the brisk British seaside, you could readily imagine the countrified soul of Chicago’s Whitney seeping from an open-top car’s stereo, as its hot tyres throw up dust on a sprawling open road.
The duo – comprised of former Smith Westerns members Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich – have created a debut album that is steeped in warm fuzzy nostalgia, recalling soft rock stalwarts The Eagles and Bread, and tonight’s live reproduction creates a magical atmosphere as the venue’s magnificent mirrorball twinkles and turns like a supermoon above.
Whitney‘s winsome folk rock is wondrous from the outset: ‘No Matter Where We Go’ shakes and shimmies like a 70s jukebox staple, ‘The Falls’ recalls Crosby, Stills & Nash with its dulcet vintage melodies, and ‘Follow’ is a shot of foot-tapping, easy-listening bliss. Throughout the exquisite moments from first LP ‘Light Upon The Lake’, as well as during covers of Dylan and NRBQ, Ehrlich holds court from behind his drum kit – with trumpet, guitars and bass the supporting cast to his delicate vocals. His soft buttery voice sounds even better in the flesh; it’s less buried in the fug of throwback effects and reveals itself to be a far stronger asset than previously imagined.
It especially wows on their homage to America‘s ‘A Horse with No Name’, ‘No Woman’, which provides a fitting conclusion. One that cements their collection of jaunty pop nuggets in the memory and marks this one as a truly intoxicating experience.