This review really could have been the easiest of my career. All I would have to write is this:
But that would be lazy, possibly ineffective and ultimately comparing a band’s accomplishments by placing them on a shelf next to some other bands with vaguely similar sounds.
The members of White Rose Movement have entangled their sound in a number of different parallels and tangents, all which are accepted into today’s “scene” but have rarely been combined as effectively they are on Kick. The ’80s nostalgia, a cornerstone of today’s indie scene, shows up throughout the record, with various tributes being paid to Depeche Mode. The combination of a full band, electronic elements and sickly industrial fractures is reminiscent of what Cooper Temple Clause realized on Kick Up the Fire, And Let the Flames Break Loose. The huge synth sections and certain sections of the vocals, when not in the vein of David Gahan, can be selectively compared to the works of the Faint. There are even touches of fellow Brits Clor and that band’s “electro-pop sees its shadow” sound — electronic music with perverted intentions of what to do with pop melodies.
The band members are obviously competent songwriters with an ability to translate their influences into concise pieces, but without the presence of Paul Epworth (a.k.a. Phones), Kick could have easily become a jumble and indiscernible mess of fuzzy bass and dirty synths, with some Brit crooning in that super-produced vocal style we’ve all accepted as the norm from industrial-esque bands. Epworth’s accomplishment is obvious throughout the record. Having remixed some of today’s indie-elite, infusing garage rock riffs with electro elements, he knows the importance of dance-floor accessibility and brings out all the shadows and contrasts that make Kick the accomplishment it is.
“Love Is a Number” is able to take the darkness of industrial music, push the bass into the front of the mix, and create a dance-floor’s wet dream. In the waning minutes of “Alsatian,” a super-distorted guitar breaks up the drive of the song so effectively that when the beat kicks back in you can feel its renewed vigor. There’s a synth lead at the halfway point of “Testcard Girl” that the boys of the Faint are probably weeping over, wishing that they had written it first.
I’ve written a few times about dance music seeing its shadow, realizing its ability to bear substance. White Rose Movement has only solidified my belief that this can be accomplished. It’s a tricky mix, and there are more bands getting it wrong than getting it right, but it’s refreshing when it is accomplished as successfully as it is on the first half of Clor’s self-titled debut or throughout Kick.