Album Reviews

The Whip – X Marks Destination

(Southern Fried) UK release date: 24 March 2008

Just as you thought it was safe to come out of the club toilets, The Whip decide to subject us to the last fetid breaths from the corpse of nu-rave. If Manchester didn’t already have enough to answer for…

Strong words to open a review with, I know, but there’s just something about The Whip’s debut that makes me feel like a primary school teacher. I feel like I need to take each of the members of the Manc(-ey) four piece aside and give them a big red report card that says ‘MUST TRY HARDER’ in inch-high letters.

Why? Because, no matter what my star rating above says, there are enough moments, transient, ephemeral periods, no more than that, little gasps, blinks, whatever you want, but there are enough of them on this debut album that actually make me believe that this band might – might, mind – have something in them that could transcend the doldrums that make up the majority of their debut album.

History tells us that those who are blind to its lessons are prone to repeat its mistakes, and The Whip seem to have missed out on reading The Rise And Fall Of The Indie-Dance Empire. Not that long ago, a number of mediocre bands – yes, Jesus Jones, I do mean you – decided that their lack of actual songs didn’t really matter, because they’d discovered that New Recording Technology! could fill all the gaps in their foundations. Of course it didn’t really because, in a manner akin to The Emperor’s New Clothes, said bands ended up left out in the cold, with little to hide their modesty beyond an old Akai sampler and a crumpled recording contract.

And so we come to The Whip, yet another band that seem to think that they can deliver a debut that is so in hock to the mis-en-scene of sounds that currently haunt today’s indie scene that they wouldn’t know an original idea if it ran them over in a juggernaut full of freeze-dried philosophers. X Marks Destination is so full of cack-handed treatments of the themes and sounds that Joy Division and later New Order made their own that at times their songs sound like one of those awful demonstration tunes that you get with Casio keyboards.

“Oh, yes, play me a song in the key of Ceremony”. Certainly, Sir; except on X Marks Destination it’s called Frustration, and it is, well, a bit naff. Too many tracks here consist of little more than a cynical panty raid through the drawers of pop’s recent history – everything is borrowed, nothing is returned.

But let’s revisit my original need to rehabilitate each and every member of this band. What, if anything, did I ever see in them; what tiny glimmer of hope made me resist slamming the door and demanding the harshest remedial sentence for their crimes? Bizarrely, it’s the moments when they stop pretending to need to pander to the ‘indie’ and focus on the ‘dance’ that The Whip start to show a little promise.

Both Fire and Divebomb are stock, lock and barrel full of real old-skool acid tweaks and bleeps, even if they do lift your mood primarily by making you think of happier times spent listening to old compilations of Skint Records finest acts. In the final analysis, The Whip need to focus more on the dynamics of the dance floor and less on looking cool for the covers of inkies.

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More on The Whip
The Whip – Wired Together
The Whip – X Marks Destination