Do you know those shots in movies where they try to show the passing of time by pointing a camera at the sky and fast forward the images? Clouds fly by, the sun comes up and down, dramatic music is played? That’s the picture that comes to my mind when I think of The Whiles. This is a band I’ve been able to see (in a short time) grow from a college rock band to something much, much more.
When I started to go their shows on a somewhat regular basis in the summer of 2003, they were known to the city as Mrs. Children. They’d play these weekly gigs at Andyman’s Treehouse that would continue to pack the place, week after week, and this was on a Wednesday night! Everyone at those shows knew that something special was going on, and we’d eagerly wait the next Wednesday performance to see what new covers or songs the band would prepare. It became a sort of competition between me and my friends: “How many Mrs. Children shows did you go to?”
All through this time, the band was honing their sound. While their early days were filled with “jangly, smart rock” (a description Rolling Stone gave them), it was obvious at these shows that the band was moving away from that. Their music was becoming more spiritual and direct from their hearts.
By the time December rolled around, the band rechristened themselves as The Whiles, and they went into a self imposed exile for several months until their first full length album was complete. “Colors of the Year” was finally released in early May, and it was definitely worth the wait.
Delicately honest, these songs could break in half if not handled with care. The album is filled with lush orchestrations and whispered lyrics, making it feel very personal to the listener. I’ve heard people compare the music to Nick Drake, Pernice Brothers, The Bryds and Wilco, and I’ll go along with that.
And it’s because of the band’s inspirations that the album has a timeless quality to it. While it’s not the coolest thing in the world to say that this is a record that your parents will enjoy, it’s also the truth. This is a record that spans across genres and age groups, making something available for anyone to enjoy.
While writing this review, I’ve had to resist quoting lines from just about every song. That’s how powerful the songwriting is. But it wasn’t until recently when I was paying extra close attention to the lyrics that I realized what a sad album it is. Joe Peppercorn’s lyrics lend to beautiful imagery, whether we’re to “Watch as the rainclouds open up to cry” or “Your silence is now more than you can bear,” these words can really punch your heart. How can someone so young have such a grasp on love and longing?
My favorite song on the album is “Will You,” a track that showcases everything that is great about the band: emotional singing, heartfelt lyrics and music that sticks in your head for a long, long time. As Zack Prout sings about growing old together and asking the person you love if they’ll be there for you forever, I just want to be with my girlfriend, holding her tight and making that promise.