If you’re a musician and you find yourself facing that critical moment of the third album - the moment of truth when your future really hangs in the balance - that is when you have to change strategy and make yourself interesting; even more so if you live in Brooklyn. The eternal issue of turning over a new leaf or dying, has to be on White Rabbits’ minds. Since they showed up in 2007 with that honky-tonk calypso treatise called “For Nightly” (Say Hey Records, 2007), the band has always figured in the fine print of festivals and in the hearts of indie-rock underground explorers. With their second work, “It’s Frightening” (TBD Records, 2009), they relatively successfully tried to imitate their adored Spoon (there’s a reason why Britt Daniel produced their album). On this “Milk Famous” they not only want to keep making it clear that the authors of “The Way We Get By” are an inevitable point of reference for them - copying them perhaps to the point of obscenity - but they also want to distance themselves, consciously and quickly, from the path of international growth that has got them to where they are.
As already happened with “It’s Frightening”, they darken and slow their sound down to reach a point of maturity, however illusory it may be. White Rabbits seek to fight in the same league as Radiohead (if it weren’t for the chorus, “Hold It To The Fire” could have slipped into one of Thom Yorke’s group’s albums), but on an uneven playing field. It’s fine with us if they want to try it, but something is wrong when after listening to these eleven new songs, we find that beyond the hit “Temporary” and Alexander Even’s aggressive guitar in the opening of “Heavy Metal”, the album ends up bordering on dullness, contributing little new to their list of recordings.
They are definitely missing a hook, a pissed-off attitude, memorable melodies, and the desire to empathise with (and move) the audience. It will be hard for them to come out on top with their next album, this one being so irregular. It’s upsetting to see that they have the talent to do better, but haven’t managed to play to their fortes. Because if nothing else, with two drumming monsters like Matthew Clark and Jamie Levinson, the world could be their oyster - if they settled down and didn’t try to sound like a digest of bands that are already more than well-known and assimilated.