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Music Review: The Whip – X Marks Destination

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I am convinced that artists in the UK are in cahoots with each other to keep the art of the great pop album from their American counterparts. In the US, pop continues to be a four-letter word for the self-respecting audiophile, while bands like The Whip continue to make catchy, progressive, and most importantly, listenable pop albums on the other side of the Atlantic.

Maybe if I lived in the UK, I’d actually listen to the radio again. You remember the radio, right? It’s the thing sitting on your nightstand that used to play good music.

On The Whip’s soon to be released album, X Marks Destination, the boys in the band (Danny Saville, Lil Fee, Nathan Sudders and Bruce Carter) bounce through ten tracks (plus another four bonus remixes). It’s their amalgam of indie rock, electro, dance, and pop that make it an interesting listen. The tracks are worthy of the club, but could easily find a place on the iPod of the girl who listens to Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes.

In short, the album should appeal to a fairly large demographic, and yet, X Marks Destination doesn’t make any large compromises in style. For instance, most of the songs clock in around five minutes — an unfriendly length to the radio — and the opener, “Trash,” is well past six minutes.

Refreshingly, the songs aren’t overproduced. Invention seems to take the place of good sense among many in the electronic music profession these days. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The beats employed on X Marks Destination are fairly simple and allow for textured overlays of guitar and synthesizer. Only a couple of the tracks suffer from their simple arrangements. Specifically, “Sirens” sounds dated, a reject from a bygone era. It’s a small quibble that doesn’t really mar the overall effect of the album.

The best surprises of the album, however, are the remixes nestled at its tail end. Normally remixes are simply filler and add little value to a “bonus tracks” album, but here, some even surpass the originals. “Trash (Crooker’s Remix)” is so much better than the original I’m seriously considering swapping the track order with its namesake. “Muzzle #1,” one of the weakest tracks on the album, benefits greatly from remix (though it’s still not a frontrunner on the album).

The Whip may not be reinventing the disco ball, but X Marks Destination is a good pop record. So few can claim such a distinction this century. For that, at least, The Whip deserves your ears. In fact, after listening to the album, mail it to your most loathed, no-talent pop artist that is topping the charts these days and hope for the best. It couldn’t hurt.

X Marks Destination will be released on March 3rd.

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