The White Octave’s name has come up as featuring an ex-member of Cursive – really, the ex-member of Cursive since the rest of the band is back together. Stephen Pedersen, former guitarist of Cursive, plays guitar and sings for The White Octave, and, in truth, the dynamics of power and emotion that were evident in Cursive’s music can be heard here too. But this does not really sound like Cursive. Rather, Pedersen and his new bandmates have crafted a very unique and powerful album with their debut full-length.
The White Octave play a style of music that falls somewhere between the songwriting sensibilities of stellar indie rock, the power and emotion of your favorite emo band, the complex structures of math-rock, and the dynamics of a more hardcore act. It’s not your typical emo style, so don’t think it will be. Rather, it’s powerful and complex rock with stellar rhythm, emotional and powerful vocals, and, above all, a thick and brilliant texture. That’s what makes this album so unique and so good.
The album starts off about as slow as it’s going to get, with acoustic guitars and sounding almost Guided By Voices-esque, that is, until it rips into a shout and the guitars and drums come blasting in. I think the blasts of guitars layered with powerful rhythm on “Crashing the Clarion” remind me most of Cursive, but this song has much more of a focus on rhythm and power. One of the best tracks here, “Devise Executes,” shows the mix of styles that make The White Octave so hard to place. One minute the percussion comes in complex and light, and then the guitars come in blistering and driving. The vocals are once emotional and then loud and textured. On “Call the Kiss,” the band gets their most somber and moody, beginning soft and deep and building into a heart-wrenching explosion. “If I could split my heart in two / I’d give the beating half to you,” Pedersen sings, and I think here he shows off how powerful of a singer he is, going from a near whisper to an all-out scream. “Adult Entertainment” features stuttering, almost metallic-sounding guitar and powerful bass lines, and while not being metal, it shows off a more heavy side of the band. “Crossing the Rubicon” is another powerful, emotional track, really highlighted by intense bass lines and Pedersen’s vocals reaching high notes and bellows alike, and “No Resolution Theory” and “South” show the band can play fast-slow melodic guitar style emo as well, but still doing it with complex rhythms and heavy bass. And the title track finishes things off as another stellar track, fluid and powerful, with melodic guitar and stellar drumming.
Again, I say that The White Octave are not your typical emo band, because some people who review this will likely toss it off as being so. Rather, the complex structures and powerful rhythms here are unique and difficult to label. The White Octave seem to be all about complexity and power, and each song differs from the last while building on the brilliance of this album. And while this can best be called a post-hardcore band, I guarantee the energy and talent of their style of rock is something very different, and something you’re going to love.