Performance (City Slang)
Reviewed by Rachel Rascoe, Fri., Aug. 24, 2018
A dozen years as ever-evolving Austin essentials, White Denim delivers one of its best demonstrations of rock & roll raucousness. Founding members James Petralli and Steve Terebecki, joined by onetime NRBQ drummer and local beatmaster Conrad Choucroun plus various homegrown associates, push playful studio experimentation to its natural seams. Even with all the jazz, jams, and wonky improvisations, the nine tracks of musicians' music remain fun, unpretentious. "Magazin" sputters to a start on flipping radio frequencies, careening into a sleek swagger with creaky brass and psychedelic texturing. Petralli's versatile voice, binding together the band's alternately progressive, garage-y, soulful sound through six studio LPs now and various lineup changes, hits punky nonchalance with "Moves On" and Unknown Mortal Orchestra's pop pitch on "Double Death." The crew's consistent love of R&B imbues "It Might Get Dark" with a slinky Steely Dan vibe and fuzzy "Backseat Driver" harks back to the hometown heroes' original back room capabilities. The title track is a hyper jaunt, explaining an album led by carefree energy and well-thought-out spontaneity in a snappy chorus: "I suppose this is all a performance."