Album Review: We Have Band - 'WHB' (WHB Records/Naive)

Brainy indie-disco trio's debut soars when it doesn't try too hard

Album Review: We Have Band - 'WHB' (WHB Records/Naive)

7 / 10 A lot of people like the name We Have Band. It’s been called “clever” and “deliberate”. It suggests knowingness, not taking this whole music thing too seriously. But it’s also ripe for interpretation of the opposite kind, depending on how you feel about ‘knowingness’ as a general approach to stuff. It could be seen as arch and distant, on the wrong side of considered. It could seem like former EMI employees Dede WP, Thomas WP and Darren Bancroft are trying too hard, a combination of distance and over exertion.

But a name is just a name, and some people like it. So let’s not get too Debbie Downer so early on, because this debut has plenty going for it. After a couple of years of live circuit graft and healthy blog-servicing, the trio have nurtured expectations of an indie disco marriage made in hipster heaven. Curiously, ‘WHB’ works in spite of the things that initially brought them attention, rather than because of them. Their internet big-hitters like ‘Divisive’ and ‘Oh!’ would have burned hot and bright in 2007, but things move fast, and they suddenly sound dated: the wedded bliss of guitars and beats needs to be spiced up if they want to keep things fresh.

When the band dig a little deeper and keep the Rapture love to a minimum, it starts to get special. They’ve got all the right influences in all the right places. They’re clearly indebted to ’80s pop and that Animal Collective swathe of noise, but their borrowings work with their ingenuity rather than against it. ‘Love, What You Doing?’ is the kind of depressive disco that’s got enough Bronski Beat in its blood to turn it into a surprising floor-filler, the same trick they perform with the similarly cynical ‘Centrefolds & Empty Screens’ (“We’ve been around, we’ve been around”). ‘Buffet’ is most beautiful though, ambling and confident enough to resist the urge to ramp it up too much – when it reaches its climax, it’s classy rather than showy. It’s the moulding of quiet beginnings into smartly danceable, intricate tunes that’s the rabbit in We Have Band’s hipster hat.

Rebecca Nicholson

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