They call it prog-rock, art-rock, jazz-rock, they call it tedious and pretentious, they call it heady, too-much, reserved as the best time to get a drink at the bar or shop the merch table….
White Willow’s record Future Hopes assists in refuting that argument.
I like when a musician takes an idea to its very end, and when it’s done right, time can certainly fade. Think Dark Side of the Moon, The Court of the Crimson King, Lateralus, Deloused in the Comatorium, Permanent Waves, all records that have had ideas taken to completion, even if it means 10 minute orchestrations with neck breaking time signatures and chords reserved for the symphony hall.
White Willow hails from Norway, and that icy, mountainous terrain can be found within their music, especially on their newest record Future Hopes. The band has always been better than good, however this record might take them over the edge. Lead singer (and newest member of the collective), Venke Knutson, offers a soaring voice over some of the band’s most prolific, eclectic, and powerful music in their 20+ year career, and she should be commended. She carries the album's lead single “Future Hopes”--an aching love song with a chorus that will cement to your brain stem--as well as the second song on the record, the muted “Silver and Gold,” which could have been written in Sherwood Forest.
However, those songs are not the highlights of the record. Topping 11 minutes, “In Dim Days” begins with a Stranger Things-esque synth that bleeds through the entire song until the band breaks in with a driving drum beat. Knutson’s windy voice teeters on the supernatural. Midway through the song there is a break reminiscent of “Nights in White Satin” minus Vincent Price. “A Scarred View” is an 18 minute opus that begins by painting an oracular, landscaped picture best listened to in the dark. The song opens into an affable pop explosion, full of drums that will get you dancing, especially at the 6 minute mark when the drums and synth put on a Ph.D thesis in breakdowns.. “A Scarred View” showcases a band in tune with their surroundings as the band tears through emotions through effective instrument placement.
“Animal Magnetism” offers a harder-edged sound, and “Damnation Valley” bookends the record with a beautiful, piano-driven orchestration.
All that to say Future Hopes is tangible and accessible while at the same time theatrical and dramatic. It hits all the right notes all at the right time. The record is elegant, and progressive, without being pretentious, and some of White Willow’s best work.
9.0 / 10
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