The first track, "At Night in Dreams," off White Denim's latest, Corsicana Lemonade, twists and turns, bursting with ideas, wearing influences on its sleeve. It kicks off with an intricate, stop-time guitar riff that sounds like something from a King Crimson record. The galloping drums and power chords beg for airplay on classic rock radio. Vocalist James Petralli is a verbal doppelgänger for The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.
The way the song refuses to settle on any one style is representative of the entire album. The number of changes on Corsicana Lemonade—changes in style, guitar tone, tempo, time signature—is staggering, especially since the whole album clocks in at fewer than 40 minutes. That it all works testifies to the inventiveness of the writing and to the high quality musicianship, with the highest honors going to drummer Josh Block for staying in command through every mutation. His drum parts feel just as schizoid and mercurial as the rest of the music, but they're always recognizably his—even when the band gets souled out on album closer "A Place to Start." Giving that title to the last song on the album serves as a sly wink to the listener. Petralli offers an invitation, saying, "If I ever start to change for the worst, show me something real." But then, with the line, "I'll do my best to turn it around and get back to you," he never promises that your reality won't get thrown into the White Denim blender.
White Denim plays the Top Hat Thu., Jan. 30, at 10 PM, along with Skin Flowers. Doors at 9:30 PM. $13/$11 advance.