I’d imagine that working with your sister causes a certain amount of added attention to detail. In terms of creativity, you’d probably want to be able to open up as much as possible and details, are where the hardest efforts die young. The brother-sister duo of Will and Amy Bennett compliment their efforts as The White Ravens, an eclectic effort that finds the pair relishing in the simplest of terms: making enjoyably carefree music together.
Back when I was first listening to the music of Of Montreal and how the idiosyncrasy of Kevin Barnes would drive the songs into the cheery bubble gum pop that could melt anyone’s hearts, that kind of ‘heart-on-sleeve’ style always seemed frowned upon. The clarity of his band’s music was always impeccably varied, multi-dimensional and dynamic, but it wasn’t until Hissing Fauna… that suddenly, everything had changed. The White Ravens evoke these same kinds of subtleties that after being hit with ten of them, they become the substance with time. And at the core of it all is pop music that is at very essence, a solid blend of peculiar songs.
There’s a song devoted to the nuclear panda bear on the cover and between the Islands-heavy synthesizer and Amy’s happy-go-lucky singing, you wouldn’t be completely off by guessing it was something out of Deerhoof’s book. And although the Bennett’s push every motion to the opposite of the stream, there is not nearly enough staying power behind the music they’ve amassed.
Will acts as the music’s masked creator: the one that winds up these spooky sounds for Amy to sing away to. She’s agile enough to modify her cadence and overall tone to fit the songs’ various themes (on “30 Stories” she stretches her dexterity to impressive range) but a lack of uniqueness is what Gargoyles and Weather Vanes ends up becoming when it all comes to an end. Even the playful take on a kiss-off with “Tick Tock” plays the metaphors a little too loosely to genuinely care; after the music begins to rest against its standard linear melody and broken chord chorus, it’s hard to imagine someone watching you like a clock would, tick tock.
Fortunately, there are an even-keel number of good moments to partially overlook some of the missteps – the Billy Joel-esque demeanor of “Broken Halves” is a welcome shift and even “Eulogy”’s vulnerable openness is a beautiful display for Amy to showcase her voice – and they happen more often than not. The styles change from destination to destination with ease, now if only they could stun and grip like others before them. But with already two albums down, the Michigan band have found something worth paying attention to and more power to them; heck, maybe power-pop is coming to their arena soon – they’d probably be able to nail it.
“Tick Tock” by The White Ravens