A band that bears a clear-cut influence from past bands can spark all sorts of silly hipster arguments. Like post punk? Joy Division, The Chameleons, PIL, etc…may be OK to say that you love. Get into the post punk revival scene of the early 00’s though, and it gets a bit murky. Interpol…OK. Editors…maybe? The Killers…lost their hipster status (the awful cover of Joy Division didn’t help their case, it must be said). Where does the originality argument draw the line? Are all singer songwriters straight rip-offs of Bob Dylan (or to be fair, Woody Guthrie)? Why is Bruce Springsteen deemed cool but John Mellencamp isn’t (I love both artists). The answer can be boiled down to a very simple statement – none of it matters. Music is music and you either connect with it or you don’t. Scenes come and go, but if the music has that intangible quality – it’ll outlast all fads.
White Pulp hail from Los Angeles and bear a very clear Nine Inch Nails influence. Dig a little deeper beyond the surface and you will also hear shades of Depeche Mode (circa the Violator / Songs of Faith and Devotion eras), Gary Numan, and Soft Cell. In their official biography, the band are described as “…White Pulp is the brainchild and spiritual heir of Sonny Lanegan. Hailing from Italy, Sonny had met success covering the music which moved him.From riotous energy to emotive confessions, White Pulp will seduce even the coldest hearts and hottest heads. The music can be powerful, with lyrics shouted by megaphone and riffs blaring”
Earlier this year, frontman Sonny Lanegan showed shocking versatility with his instrumental record No Questions. Atmospheric yet melodic, it completely entranced me. I was curious to see how this would translate to White Pulp’s first international release Vulgarity is Not a Felony. The answer? Very very well. Sonny has now been involved with 2 of my favorite records of the year (as he plays bass in the up and coming LA band The Dark, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 3rd before the year is out).
A Bit About the Tunes…
Black Velvet Heart opens the album with a bit of sludgy electronic dread. Sonny’s vocals are emotional, yet restrained. Stunning guitar work that really lends to the dark atmosphere. Sets the tone for the record as we join Sonny on this nihilistic journey.
Full Time Bitch incessant almost techno beat fills my headphones before an 80’s New Romantic guitar comes into play. A fun sounding song giving a nice contrast to the accusatory and dark lyrics. Very strong chorus. Reminds me of a more aggressive version of Soft Cell from around their Non Stop Erotic Cabaret era. In other words – absolute perfection. Key lyrics:
You dance in clubs kind of high
looking for someone who will catch your look
so you will start your movie
Cause you are a full-time bitch with everyone
it lets you feel so cool but no one cares
Run Into Motorcycle sounds to start the song before an industrial guitar comes into focus. Guitar fades away and we are left with Sonny singing his heart out. Vocals alternate between clean and electronic embellishments. Timely synth flourishes throughout the song. Key lyrics:
You keep denying your desires
you keep hiding your secrets, but i have more
this is a dark room with no love
in all this there is no love
Malediction dark electronic vibe with amazing orchestral touches. Killer, sinister beat – and this is all within the first minute! Sonny’s voice comes in over top of everything and I’m left with the thought – why haven’t I heard this playing on every modern rock radio station? Key lyrics:
drinking cups of rum and coke until your brain is afloat
can you taste the stardust you’ll never escape this
cause you should be ashamed of..ashamed of yourself
Straight to Your Fucking Head Sonny’s abilities as a composer really shine on this closing track. 2 minutes of mayhem, violence, and destruction anchored down by orchestration executed perfectly. Vocals are pure evil, reminding me of what an offspring from Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor might sound like. It cuts out quickly, leaving the listener wanting more.
This record comes highly recommended by me. It wears its influences on its sleeves, but also twists, turns, and manipulates those influences into something wholly original. As I mentioned at the outset – labels, influences, and fads are meaningless. Does the music affect you? Does it leave you thinking about it, long after the album has ended? I can wholeheartedly say “Yes” to both of those questions with White Pulp’s newest release. The album is available via Itunes or through the band’s official website located here.
Verdict: Tasting the stardust
For Fans Of: David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Soft Cell, Gary Numan
1. Full Time Bitch
2. Black Velvet Heart
4. Tastes Like Candy
5. Just Fuck Me Right
7. Blood and Whisky
8. Run Into
9. Peace of Mind
10. Pretty Starts and Tears
11. I Hate You
12. Straight To Your Fucking Head