If you want to know what your favorite British Invasion band would sound like in 2015, you’re going to have to turn to Louisville, Kentucky. White Reaper still has a decidedly American sound, make no mistake, but that’s due mainly to their recording choices and a few rockabilly grooves here and there. The garage fuzz is the main indicator these guys are from the U.S. but their songwriting is so perfectly evocative of every good British power pop band, from The Who to The La’s, that it’s hard to believe their flag isn’t the Union Jack.
Garage rock can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow. Despite its punk authenticity, it’s fair to assume everyone who has listened to a Ty Segall record or any Burger Records band has wondered at least for a few seconds if all the noise was necessary. Chaos is a hard line to toe. When distortion and wildness are your only rules, that means there’s nothing barring indulgence. On top of that, it can be hard to discern when the sloppiness is intentional rather than the opposite.
White Reaper Does It Again avoids those problems completely. It is to the Burgerama era what a band like The Nerves was to the early years of punk. They’ve learned following the rules can help you break them in the best ways. Each song here is a lesson in catchiness. Every driving guitar onslaught, drum hop around, keyboard attack and vocal screed is a hook unto itself. The distortion is prominent almost as a laugh in the face of danger. They could’ve turned it up even higher, made everything more indiscernible, and these songs still would’ve been stuck in your head (and every part of them too).
Back to how British this record sounds. Even if it’s pretty decisively power pop, albeit a very crazed and feedback-obsessed version of it, it’s almost completely devoid of the jangly twang conjured up by American bands of that association. You’d think a band from Louisville would be more influenced by Big Star than The Libertines, but the world is globalizing more and more each day. Influence spreads wide, and if The Stones made their name figuring out a British way to play the blues, then why begrudge a band of Southern Americans for figuring out an American way to play The Who?
Every song on here sounds like a spiritual successor to songs like that band’s “The Kids Are Alright,” The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” or The Creation’s “Making Time.” Let’s say you’re of the opinion Rushmore has the best Wes Anderson movie soundtrack. If that’s the case, play this record to death, and the songs on it will still sound like they’re taking a stab at immortality and beginning to pierce its armor.