Rock n’ roll, when it’s done right, starts with attitude. It can be something as simple as a vocal delivery or as complex as an aggressive groove, but unless you’ve got some angst-ridden energy to bring to the table, the odds are against your being able to break the mainstream the way legends in the genre once did.
Whoop isn’t hiding their disdain for the status quo in their self-titled album this autumn, but instead using songs like “What I Want,” “Care,” “Cool,” and “Demons” to establish them as being some of rock’s last true button-pushers. They blend elements of ska songcraft, alternative rock, straight punk and even dance rock and put it into this sultry cocktail of an LP, which is raising more than a couple of eyebrows among critics right now (and for good reason).
The guitars are always the star of rock’s best records, and this is one department where Whoop is no different from the scores of other bands to have come before them. “Smile” and “Jaded” are sporting some of the most defined string play of the record, but they don’t overstate their presence beside the consistent “Care” and unmovable closer “Nash Park;” this isn’t about competing for the attention of the audience nor each other. You can tell these players all have something deep invested in their music, and if they didn’t, I don’t think they would be sporting the kind of crushing tonal output they do from one track to the next in this album.
Listen to Whoop! below
Lyrically, there’s a poppiness to “Jump,” “Demons” and “Cool” that can’t be confused with the lackluster content you’ve been hearing from similar artists in 2021 for anything – this vocalist is a lot more sincere in her delivery than some might be ready for. There’s a real story at hand for the majority of this material, and whether we’re pressed against the strut of the rhythm when we reach the climax of the single or not, it comes across as being born of tension no matter how you break it down. I’d love to get to know these musicians a little more in the future, mostly through the telling content they’re going to produce in the years to come.
Whoop isn’t holding back from telling us and each other how it’s going to be in this record, which currently feels like a veteran effort more than it does a fresh piece from wide-eyed rookies. There’s no getting around the quality of the music and the production style, but even if they had gone with something a little more DIY at the end of the day, I think it could have been just as immersive a listening experience as what we’re getting in this version of the record. It will be interesting to see the way the next few years unfold for Whoop, but if there’s anything we’re supposed to learn about their future from their present, it’s that experimentation is going to lead the way in and out of pop music for the next generation to come.