Review – W+C

Author: Doug Wallen
Source: Philadelphia Weekly, Umm…Drop
Link to article

Puzzle-pop doesn’t get much more puzzling than on Great Bouncing Icebergs, the long-awaited album by the madcap Philly troupe Whales and Cops. It’s packed with intimate shivers and hulking revelations and everything in between, beeping and blurring while virtuosic players with fake names wrangle vivid new life from their instruments.

Maybe that sounds like hyperbole, but this band’s sonic extremes are enough to shock even listeners weaned on years of Man Man, from which Whales and Cops were an offshoot. A more kindred spirit these days might be Make a Rising, an equally batty ensemble with two albums on the local label High Two, which will soon release Great Bouncing Icebergs.

Just finished, the album doesn’t have a track listing yet. That and the absence of real names increases the disorienting experience that is Whales and Cops’ ambitious jazz- and classical-damaged art-pop. Vocals are an iffy quantity at best, although one track finds a sublime voice stepping in as if to sooth a sobbing child. But it lasts less than a minute, and in other places the singing is mercurial at best.

As with Man Man, the drumming and other percussion is stunning. Constantly evolving but always involving, it holds down the fort for a most erratic array of sounds. Yet there’s a very real undertow of pop here, from wind-swept strings and pristine female backing vocals to buzzing and bouncing synths. Having multiple multi-instrumentalists is key for Whales and Cops, and Great Bouncing Icebergs certainly benefits from so much rapid-fire scene-changing and many kaleidoscopic build-ups.

Whales and Cops Thurs., July 17, 9pm.
With Sexy Thoughts.
Inciting HQ,
940 N. Delaware Ave.

But hey, if you still think these guys can’t possibly be as eye-poppingly strange as described here, head to their warehouse show and let their friends cut your hair. Yes, they’re offering free haircuts before the show. Why? Because they can.


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