Shoegaze and post-rock are two genres that have been beaten to death by numerous bands in the recent past. The keys to creating a truly mesmerizing album in both genres is always about the atmosphere created by the musicianship. Vocals are always important as with any genre, but the backdrop of the dream world that shoegaze music can create takes a vast precedence over anything else involved. This attention to detail is what makes Whirr one of the best bands in the genre despite only releasing two full length albums thus far. With their sophomore effort in Sway, they take another huge step forward in relevance.
Whirr strike the perfect balance between rocking just hard enough to get the blood pumping but also creating cerebral landscapes for listener to live inside as well. The guitars on Sway are always throwing a left hook by building up momentum to a massive ending that at times takes one’s breath away. The drums are equally heavy and important, pounding beats into every song with dire urgency. Vocals are similar to what you might get from Billy Corgan(The Smashing Pumpkins) or Dominic Palermo(Nothing), floating over top of the backing instrumentation as if they are weightless. That is not to say Loren Rivera’s vocal approach is meaningless because the vast range of despair and hope displayed throughout the record is truly astounding.
With having an almost perfect song every time out on Sway, there are very few flaws to discuss for the entire album. The title track is the best track, using a slow and steady building ballad to slow down the pace to almost half speed. The drone and darker tone gives the song a sense of desperation and sadness that really hits hard. “Press” shows a bit more versatility, exhuming a highly energetic but relaxed tone that never fades away even as the song suddenly ends. “Heavy” displays how truly special Whirr is at setting a tone, using a more dissonant and fuzzy attack to breathe life into the album. The orchestral build, sweeping guitars, and smooth drums show that there is much more here than pounding drums into oblivion. The only slight complaint that needs to be noted is that some of the songs could be much longer in order to build the feelings created, but this is a very slight gripe.
Whirr display just how important tone and melody are to shoegaze and post-rock, striking an incredible balance to create a near masterpiece. Every song has an incredible build, along with powerful instrumentation and majestic vocals. Despite being a bit too short for my taste, Sway is a powerhouse of a record and is destined to be one of the finest albums of the year.