Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., April 1, 2016
For a brief instant, the future of White Denim seemed uncertain. Despite the departure of second guitarist Austin Jenkins and drummer Joshua Block to soul wunderkind Leon Bridges, however, Stiff picks up where the Austin quartet left off. Frontman James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki have regrouped in another tight unit with Jonathan Horne, stick man Jeffrey Olson, and multi-instrumentalist Mike St. Clair to continue the band's streak of revivalist rock. Eschewing the soulful psychedelia of 2011's D and brazen classic rock of the Jeff Tweedy-assisted Corsicana Lemonade two years later, the band's seventh LP breaks from the progressive R&B of the past for their hookiest niche of Southern rock yet. The sinuous guitar licks of "There's a Brain in My Head" and bravado swing to "Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)" echo the lively churn of the Allman Brothers, while the slow-burning charm of "Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)" channels the honey-sweet croon of Al Green, and the noisy "Mirrored in Reverse" and "Had 2 Know (Personal)" mirror the raucous energy of Grand Funk Railroad. White Denim realizes a sound truly its own on Stiff, shaking off whatever nerves that may have lingered after significant lineup change.