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Whitehorse – Panther In The Dollhouse

Don’t let that pink pussy fool ya…

Out 4 August 2017 via Six Shooter Records

Words by Jason Guest

Canadian husband and wife duo Whitehorse are “genre chameleons” apparently. Their “brazen sonic breadth encompasses a driving Americana image with psychedelic surf, arid border rock, lo-fi ingenuity and icy 80’s sparseness” on Panther In The Dollhouse sees them make significant sonorous steps away from their usual folk/pop sounds. Though it’s not an altogether successful move, the duo show that there is more to them than has met the eye these past few years. Given the pink pussy on the album cover, opener ‘Epitaph In Tongues’, with its solemn and slightly sinister electronica sounds and ominous lyrics is far from what’s expected and makes for an intriguing opening.

Upbeat and poppy, ‘Boys Like You’ sees Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland adopting oppositional roles in this take down of the clichés of male fantasies about drunk, lazy stardom and objectification of women. ‘Die Alone’, as the title suggests, takes on a more sombre tone in stark contrast with the upbeat yet unhurried ‘Trophy Wife’ and the bold and infectious ‘Pink Kimono’. By ‘Kicking Down Your Door’ it’s clear that none of the tracks are about to sound the same and so, from ‘Gracie’ through to closer ‘Manitoba Death Star’, it’s one surprise after another with the dark streets and neon lights of ‘Night Hawks’ being the highlight of the album.

While the lyrical themes aim at being provocative, they do sound a bit, well, nice, and not as hard hitting as they could be. Musically speaking, both are adept musicians with an ear for melody and harmony, in vocals especially. Both utilise their vocal range to great effect, punctuating their performance with histrionics to suit the lyrical theme, and when they work together and adopt oppositional roles such as in ‘Boys Like You’, they add a dynamic to the tracks that elevates them from song to performance. The integration of electronica into their sound has served them well yet they still have some work to do in discovering what they can do with their new found sound. That said, if you find yourself in the middle of a lazy day or long, lonesome drive wanting something that’s diverse, well written, well produced, catchy and pleasing to the ear, Panther In The Dollhouse fits the bill. At 35 minutes long, it’s good for a few spins.

Whitehorse – Panther In The DollhouseTrack list:

  1. Epitaph In Tongues
  2. Boys Like You
  3. Die Alone
  4. Trophy Wife
  5. Pink Kimono
  6. Kicking Down Your Door
  7. Gracie
  8. I Can’t Take You With Me (Charlene’s Theme)
  9. Night Hawks
  10. Manitoba Death Star
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