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Review: WHITNEY’s Forever Turned Around

Jacob Martin | Posted on September 27, 2019

Forever Turned Around

“Forever Turned Around” is available now on all platforms.

Loosely fitting floral print button-down shirt? Check. Shorts cut above the knee? Check. Cheap canvas boat shoes with no socks? Check. An inner forearm tattoo of a classic rock album cover? Check. Alright, now that my Chicago band boy uniform is assembled and ready to go, it’s time to talk about the newest release from perhaps the biggest current band from the 312, Whitney. Born from the ruins of Smith Westerns, drummer and singer Julian Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek have returned with their hotly anticipated follow-up to their 2016 debut Light Upon The Lake, a memorable collection of bright and beaming country and Americana-tinged indie folk rock tunes with plenty of catchy hooks and arresting melodies.

On their latest, Forever Turned Around, Whitney take themselves in a new direction while also remaining largely the same. Still here to be found are the loosely swung rhythms, very pleasant and breezy timbres, wistful slide guitar, and, of course, Ehrlich’s signature falsetto vocals that were pillars of their first record. But where Light Upon The Lake was immediate, replete with material meant to be played loud and with the car windows down, Forever Turned Around is more subtle, more of a slow burn, and certainly more introspective.

The musical palette of the record is subdued, but richly detailed and deeply rewarding for the more attentive listener. Yet another feather in the cap of perhaps the best producer in indie music right now, Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, Forever Turned Around features tasteful and well-recorded arrangements front to back, with plenty of pianos and horns, and even the occasional orchestral string section.

From the opener “Giving Up” it also becomes clear that the lyrical focus of this new record is more melancholic than what we’ve come to expect from Whitney, starting the album off with the lines “Waiting for the morning sun / Are you coming home my love? / Tears are falling one by one / I can feel you giving up”. This is far from the only song on the record that deals rather intimately with the dying days of a relationship. “Valleys (My Love)” is an album highlight with one of the more memorable lines on the record, partially because of how it’s framed in the song as a central thought: “I feel like I’m holding on / To a place in your heart that’s long gone”. The closer and title track, “Forever Turned Around”, also bears mentioning, a track with a sort of shy bombast that belies a sad message: “Has your heart grown heavy by now? / ‘Cause mine’s already on the ground”. All in all, Forever Turned Around is like the autumn to Light Upon The Lake’s summer, perhaps not as immediately catchy or memorable, but with plenty to offer on repeated listens. Some may find this record boring, or perhaps even inconsequential, but I believe that the boys of Whitney have done their best to deliver a more emotionally honest and personal record than their first, and their heartfelt sentiments never fail to shine through.

Best tracks: “Valleys (My Love)”, “My Life Alone”, “Friend of Mine”, “Forever Turned Around”

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