The story of The Whigs goes something like this: Three aspiring rockers out of the University of Georgia formed a band that emerged in the mid-aughts with their sophomore LP, Mission Control, which provided Dandy Warhols fans a safe alternative for their it’s-five-o’clock-on-a-sunny-Friday, downtown, happy hour rawk fixes. Then, they lost a primary co-songwriter in Hank Sullivant to a little up-and-coming group called MGMT, and with one disappointing effort in 2010’s In the Dark, all that hype began to dwindle.
Their fourth LP, Enjoy the Company, reveals a band who has regained some confidence in what they do best, with predictably mixed results. Roughly half of Enjoy consists of cuts that should work very well from the outdoor festival stage — they’re reasonably thoughtful, and, even better, a refreshing take on the Southern-tinged garage rock sub-genre that their former tour-mates Kings of Leon have been steadily debasing since “Use Somebody”. The other songs are convenient for the necessary port-a-potty and beer tent runs designated for those times in a rock set that there’s just no reason to be present for.
Like many successful comeback records, Enjoy declares itself as such from its very first notes. “Staying Alive” is quite possibly the band’s best song to date, and manages to use each of its euphoric, drum smashin’, guitar shreddin’, horn blarin’ eight minutes and change to gradually climb to a dazzling release without feeling unnecessarily prolonged. Second-half highlight “Couple of Kids” is the flip-side to that: a stagnant, low-key drum-and-bass groove that frontman Parker Gispert uses to repeatedly remind us that he and his significant other are still just a “coupla kids, baby, coupla kids”.
Enjoy might have its fair share of painfully banal lyrics (See: “We’re out in Hollywood/ Dancin’ in the stars/ I’ll walk you to the moon/ Arm in arm on Mars” on “Tiny Treasures”), but The Whigs know better by now than to shove painfully banal lyrics down your throat. Enjoy the Company isn’t here to tell you anything you haven’t already heard, but if you’re looking for some hopscotch rock just to keep you company, it can do the job.
Essential Tracks: “Staying Alive”, “Ours”