Album Review: X Marks Destination - The Whip

With the likes of The Foals (album review very shortly...) and Friendly Fires, 2008 is really looking to be the year Nu rave went 2.0. It's growing up - less about gaudy trouser / trainer combos and more about the music.

In the midst of this, signed to this minute's world's coolest label (Kitsuné... Durr), are The Whip. Last year 'Divebomb' proved pop music could be completely instrumental, completely dancefloor derived and completely vital, whilst more recently 'Sister Siam' and 'Trash' have proven this band can, well, function as a band.

X Marks Destination is neither a rock album nor is it a dance album and if it is close to anything, it's a New Order album... Not necessarily a bad thing, the references are obvious and the likeness demonstrated most of all on the melodic 'Frustration', which even has a title that sounds like it could be New Order.

So what's right with it? X Marks Destination manages to sound sufficiently "now", most of the time. All of the previous singles still glitter in varying and different ways and 'Divebomb' continues to give pleasure in new ways with further listens: It sounds like the soundtrack to the most exciting 16bit videogame you ever played. The album also benefits from an interesting "monochromatic" sound, and it undoubtably hangs together as a cohesive body of work.

Where it falls down is perhaps where it strays from the formula. "Perhaps" because, at times, the tracks that stray work too... The almost ballad-esque 'Sirens' works better than it should, conjuring an eighties soft-rock dream that is almost as lush as Van She's take on the genre, 'Kelly'. When sandwiched amongst tracks that outshine it so much however, the overly rock inspired 'Muzzle #1' is simply dull. The singer's comparitively gruff tones are also in danger of simply making the band sound too old for the music when compared to their contempories, a shame given that when they are applied aggressively such vocals can really cut the mustard.

X Marks Destination is still likely to crop up on some year's best album lists: it contains nine good songs and five great ones... It is just a shame it only contains one fantastic one.

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