There’s one thing you should know about the Whitsundays – they produce music you will fall in love with after just one listen.The Canadian collective’s latest release, The Whitsundays, available through the Brooklyn, NY-based record label, Friendly Fire Recordings, is a testament to this fact. A throwback to the whimsical sensibilities of 60s Brit pop, their sound is broken down and stripped of the textural pedal effects most outfits find themselves executing these days. But that’s something frontman Paul Arnusch believes sets the Whitsundays apart of the rest of the Canadian crop.
“It’s a simple formula that is rarely executed with any taste these days,” says the songwriting tambourine player (and self-proclaimed trouble maker.) “At this point I wanted to give people an album that they can easily recognize and sing along to.”
It’s no surprise, however, that the Edmonton, Alberta-based troupe, which also includes Dave Swanson (guitar/vocals), Clint Frazier (drums), Lyle Bell (bass/vocals) and Doug Organ (keyboards), has fleshed out an album inundated with nostalgic and wistful melodies. The clever traces of psychedelia and garage mania fused with subtle vocal harmonies and catchy guitar hooks are only natural results of their influences – groups from the 60s like the Byrds, the Zombies, Syd Barret, and Neil Young, a musician that can always been found lurking on Arnusch’s playlist.
In whole, the self-titled effort is an album the lead singer felt compelled to make – a personal challenge to create sounds that capture life’s often-overlooked jocular aspect. Arnusch admits, though, that somber word play does make up his poetic librettos, but these are just mere lines meant to characterize grief’s transitory impression rather than a ‘deeper sorrow.’ “This is why some of the songs use sarcasm to profile characters, commenting on certain elements of society,” says Arnusch. “Others describe feelings I felt struggling with relationships in my teenaged years.”
Aside from possibly performing at a show and various parties at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX, the Whitsundays will focus on putting on a tour in support of their new album that will find them trekking through western Canada in the next few months. “We’d love to eventually play in Europe,” says Arnusch. “But we’re still trying to develop the necessary contacts to make that possible and worthwhile.”
As for the band’s more distant future, Arnusch hopes the Whitsundays continues to evolve artistically as a band, creating personal moments that represent periods of his life fans can relate to. Ultimately, though, he wants to make every Whitsundays album a unique experience, something that doesn’t seem too far out of reach.
“Hopefully people will find the tunes catchy and will relate to what I’m saying in the lyrics,” says Arnusch. “I want it to be that every time they hear a Whitsundays song at a club, they’ll immediately feel the urge to get up and dance.”
There’s something else you should know about the Whitsundays – their name has nothing to do with the exotic islands that lie midway along Australia’s Queensland coast. Instead, the moniker is lifted from an old t-shirt belonging to Arnusch’s dad, a word that means, simply, the seventh Sunday after Easter. “It’s merely an interesting word,” he says. “All I was trying to avoid was having a name consisting of a bunch of random words put together or some pretentious quote from an obscure novel.”