We at the Scene strive to be timely. We strive to be the first with your news, first with reviews, first with the freshest tunes and opinions about said tunes. Sometimes that doesn't work out. And sometimes when that doesn't work out, it's for the best. Case in point: The Whigs' latest album, Modern Creation, probably should have been on our docket when it came out back in April. And while Modern Creation was a great album in April, now that summer is here and our sweat glands are working overtime, Modern Creation is an even better album. News values and industry schedules be damned — now is the right time for Modern Creation.
"We recorded it in like November, so it ends up being a long time, but I've gotten used to it," frontman Parker Gispert tells the Scene. "It used to be a little uncomfortable, not knowing the cycle and how long it takes. But I feel like we're pretty fortunate to record the record and have it come out in a decently timely fashion. Some folks end up sitting on a record for years."
Long before The Whigs relocated to Nashville, we were onto them. It was the mid-Aughts when their first demo made it through those clandestine college back channels from their Athens, Ga., headquarters to my personal outpost in Murfreesboro. The Whigs weren't like the other kids — in Athens or in Bucket City. They had a distinctly grungy aesthetic that stood out from the dance-punks and post-rockers who seemed to define the era. It was so unfashionable, so uncool, that a rock fan couldn't help but think, "Damn, this is really fucking cool."
These were clearly dudes who gave between zero and no fucks about the prevailing trends of the day, and the music was equal parts hard-rock snarl and college-rock hooks, somehow simultaneously 10 years ahead of and 10 years behind the curve. A decade after I discovered them, The Whigs are still outside the prevailing trends. The '90s revival seems to be nipping at their heels, but it doesn't seem to matter — upstarts pedaling revisionist grunge may be knocking at the door, but The Whigs were here first and still don't seem fazed by fashion, even if it is swinging in their favor.
"We were just rehearsing a lot in preparing that album," Gispert says of Modern Creation. "It was a lot of time in the rehearsal space, and I definitely felt in-the-zone and had the blinders on leading into the record. I was just consumed with it all."
The result is an album of razor-sharp focus that cuts to the soul, from the opening chords of "You Should Be Able to Feel It" all the way through the final ringing notes of the "Difference Between One and Two." Modern Creation doesn't throw any curveballs. There's no radical departure from previous efforts. It's just The Whigs doing what The Whigs do best: rocking the fuck out.
The galloping drums and "boom-boom, whoa-oh-oh" hook of "Asking Strangers for Directions"; the amped-up, fuzzy-riffing tangle of excitement and consternation that is "Friday Night"; the laconic jangle of the title track — these aren't happy accidents, but perfectly executed rock tunes that are primed for windows-down, speedometer-up summertime adventures. There aren't many frills — some flanged guitar here, some organ there — but there are plenty of earwormy hooks and tasty riffs. Modern Creation is an uncluttered record, which makes it easy to return to and hard to shake.
"The record has aged really well for me," says Gispert. "The last couple, actually. They don't feel super-removed or super-present, either. They just feel like they exist in their own little vacuum. Neither past nor future. It's just weird."