Release Date: 17/10/19
Record Label: Elektra Records
For Fans Of: Weezer, The Dirty Nil,
Surprisingly, genuinely exciting pop-rock music seems to be so hard to come by these days. Sure there’s a lot of it out there but most of the artists making it seem to be missing the point a bit. So when a band comes along who don’t sound embarrassed to have guitars and have that underappreciated ability to write a fantastic pop hook, it is very notable indeed, especially when this band are so good at doing that as White Reaper.
Part of what makes the second record from the Kentucky quintet so great is the wealth of inspiration they seem to draw from. Almost every time the record plays you uncover another throughline back to a whole host of classic sounds. Over the course of its 29 minutes it recalls The Beach Boys, Prince, The Cure and The White Stripes with love and admiration for those artists. What turns it from simple homage into something great, however, is how well all these different sounds are turned into something surprisingly contemporary and given a new spin.
There are songs on the record which sound just as influenced by modern dance-pop as they do garage punk. ‘Hard Luck’ begins with a lounge or RnB style keys intro before being cut out by a wail of feedback leading into a searing hair-metal guitar line; showing that White Reaper aren’t going to rely on a tried and tested formula. They are trying to push back the boundaries of what is commonly seen as rock music and become more accommodating to other sounds. This is seen again on ‘Eggplant’ which has a real soulful feel thanks to the embellishments sprinkled throughout like an organ appearing at just the right time, or a catchy bass riff being audible once before disappearing again. Although lots of artists now utilise keys and different layers, it is the conviction mentioned earlier that makes it feel so vital. When the guitars do enter the picture, they barge in, rather than asking for permission and that is what makes White Reaper stand out. At the core of it all, they are still a garage rock band, as shown on the ripping ‘Ring’. The songs themselves are simple enough that you will remember them after one listen, but there is still so much to keep coming back to.
Above all it is the cool but confident attitude which makes You Deserve Love such a joy to listen to. It is a record which feels like those endless summer holidays from your teens where you can relax without a care in the world. This is epitomized on the dreamy ‘Saturday’ where White Reaper really show their love for the Beach Boys as it exudes the lazy-hazy feel that a good Saturday morning should. Of course, any good summer features a damn good party, which is exactly what the song ‘Raw’ is. Bursting with energy, vocalist Tony Esposito demands that he wants ‘to go back to that night’ and with this song it sounds like he is taking us there with him.
White Reaper are a shining example that rock n roll still has plenty left in the tank. They show that having a solid understanding of what makes rock music great, and being unafraid to get creative with the formula, goes a long way to being able to release a great modern rock record. If you were let down earlier in the year by Weezer, or are looking for something to chill-out to, this should be the next thing you reach for. You Deserve Love, and this record deserves your attention.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Saturday’, ‘Raw’, ‘Ring’