White Mystery burn some rare gasoline. Between frontwoman Alex White’s magnetism and her brother Francis’s fierce drumming, the ginger-locked duo have become a staple of Chicago’s live circuit.
Unlike the Stripes of the same color, White Mystery come across less like a pair of aliens and more like the garage band from next door. Their shows feel like basement shows no matter the venue, their records like something a childhood friend put down to tape. On their third LP, Mystery continues to find depth in absurdity and absurdity in depth at raucous volumes.
While their sophomore effort Blood & Venom saw White Mystery easing into a comfortably warm grit, Telepathic pokes through the boundaries that formerly encased the band’s work. Quoting everyone from Dylan Thomas to the Butthole Surfers, Alex pushes her vocal tone beyond her signature guttural yelps. Francis joins her for a krautrock chant on “The Prophecy”; on “Junglecat”, he takes up lead vox while relentlessly bashing at his kit.
On Telepathic, White Mystery break from the crunch-stomp-scream synapse in surprising ways, most notably on the disarmingly sweet “Hey Shirley”. The track sheds the dirt from its skin as Alex actually plays her Rickenbacker clean, harmonizing with herself over Kinksy chords. It’s the most tender moment we’ve ever heard from the duo, a lullaby between friends: “The world loves you, Shirley / And your crimson way”.
White Mystery can’t help their inalienable wildness, but it’s when they duck out from under their own archetype that they do their most resonant work. Telepathic stirs with emotions more complex than rebellious, diving down new melodic and textural avenues. Always hard to wrap up in 320 kpbs, the duo present their most deliberate album to date.
Essential Tracks: “Secret Garden”, “Hey Shirley”