Freelance Whales: Weathervanes

Lushly instrumented, harmonically sung indie-pop

There’s little to prepare you for the textural mash that makes up this quintet’s music. Mixing guitar, xylophone, and drums with deeply layered vocals and atmospheric harmonium, the band is at once driving and pastoral, dreamy and nightmarish, relaxing and angsty, languorous and jittery. The opening “Generator ^ First Floor” mixes indie pop with rich vocals and… a banjo. The five-string reappears throughout the album, offering mood-setting introductions, and solos lackadaisically plucked against thickly pulsating backgrounds. Stereolab meets the Grand Ol’ Opry. But what sets Freelance Whales apart is the clarity of Judah Dadone’s tenor, feinting towards the tone of teen-pop at times, but offering something deeper amidst the lushly, unusually instrumented arrangements. There’s a great deal of craft here, including deftly engineered recordings and several atmospheric instrumentals, but it’s Dadone’s voice that holds your ear. Well that… and the banjo. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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