White Rose Movement
uch of the attention paid to White Rose Movement’s debut album so far seems to focus on the fact that Paul Epworth produced it. This must in part be because he’s built (by direct input, choice of bands, or both) such an identifiable signature sound. Having had a hand in albums by just about every post-punk-studying British band of recent years to gain success bar Franz Ferdinand—his CV includes Bloc Party, The Futureheads, Maxïmo Park, and The Rakes—it also makes sense that any new band he lends his talents to should attract high expectations. Unfortunately Kick suggests an alternative reason why so much is made of his involvement—there isn’t anything else about White Rose Movement worthy of interest.
Kick begins with its title track and it effectively sets the scene for what’s to follow. It takes a rudimentary, slightly stodgy version of the usual Epworth template and adds icy synths and distorted, pained vocals. The 80s feel and dark, creepy atmosphere that they aim towards throughout shows a band equally as in thrall to Depeche Mode as to Gang Of Four, but it’s attempted so ineptly that it’s the type of hollow, limp replica that the best production in the world would not be able to save.
The finest, or rather least horrible, moments are those which do have kick to them—the snappy singles “Girls in the Back” and “Love Is a Number” both rattle along at pace and are enjoyably hedonistic synth-pop if lacking in the hooks needed to really hit home, and “Deborah Carne” and “Testcard Girl” may be stunningly derivative even by Kick’s standards but possess the closest the album gets to great choruses. Even there, though, a lack of ideas leads them to drive them into the ground through far too much repetition. Elsewhere “Idiot Drugs” and “Pig Heil Jam” are the ugly, wailing low-points. When the hidden track is the best thing on your record, you know you have a problem.
It’s easy to compare White Rose Movement’s debut to those of their peers and see where they come up short. Bloc Party brought a blistering, wide-eyed intensity and some fantastic drumming to their reimagining of post-punk, while The Futureheads brought relentless energy and invention and some nifty barbershop harmonies to theirs. Even The Bravery, easily the most similar band in approach to White Rose Movement and rightly derided for their style over substance rehashes of the past, at least had a couple of memorably fine songs. The White Rose Movement, on the other hand, have the style, but little substance to back it up.
Reviewed by: Iain Forrester
Reviewed on: 2006-05-01