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Whoop Releases New Album

Indie rock has been collectively shifting into quite the postmodern territory this year, and though Whoop’s new LP, the rather aptly-titled Just What?, demonstrates many of the same musical qualities that its counterparts both in and out of their scene have in 2023, it’s a decidedly different take on the cerebral style of play that has become all the rage in recent months as spring has come into its own. Songs like “Rise Up,” “Time Machine,” and “The Way” are riddled with enormous melodies, airy grooves, and sensible arrangements that meld indulgent harmonies with minimalist rhythms, and amidst all of the sonic chaos that they conjure up, Whoop remains focused, consistent and impressively synced-up as a group. Their chemistry is out of this world on this record, and it’s enough to convince me that they’re one of the best bands worth following this season. 

“New Disposition,” “Cherry Cola” and “Nothing Changes” have a retro-inspired pulse, but counter their throwback elements with grooves that are reminiscent of modern ska in certain places and a more familiar alternative rock in others. Listening to all nine of these songs in a single sitting can be a bit much if you’re not used to the diversity of this band’s instrumental profile, but for those of us who enjoy a kaleidoscopic musical experience, these tracks are hard to top at the moment, at least among groups trending on the left side of the dial. There isn’t as much varnish as one would find in a major-label pop record, but that might be why Just What? sounds so fresh and unforced. 

The textures in “Rise Up,” “Nothing Changes,” “The Way” and “Time Machine” are almost acrylic, particularly in regards to the guitar parts. For being a somewhat poppy release, Whoop’s new album has some of the swankiest strings of any I’ve been listening to this April. They’ve got a sexy grit in their distortion, but the overdrive doesn’t devolve into sloppiness or excess. The mix is a little scooped, and though it’s not the heaviest bottom I’ve ever heard, the bass on “The Way” can still shake your floorboards at a relatively modest volume. Some serious time and effort went into constructing this record, and you don’t have to be a professional critic to appreciate the fruits of this group’s commendable labor. 

I wasn’t listening to Whoop much before hearing Just What? for the first time recently, but you can believe that I’m going to be following their activity now. Just What? is a fearless album; its sprawling grooves and emotive lyrics form a patchwork of unfiltered expressions of self from the band, and even if it isn’t an oversized effort in the way of others we’re seeing a lot in 2023, its nine songs pack more of a punch than most of the tracklists that I’ve heard these past few weeks have by leaps and bounds. Whoop is getting a lot of attention right now, and provided they continue to produce music with the same amount of zeal and melodic moxie as they have in this piece, I think that there’s no limit to where their sound could take them next. 

Mindy McCall



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