White Williams – Smoke

Double Six

If a movie chronicled the whimsical escapades of recent tour-mates Girl Talk White Williams and Dan Deacon Williams would be the straight man. But then the film would have to take place in a mystical fantasy land where unicorns prance around all day quoting ’80s cartoons to lollipop-wielding gangster rappers while bingeing on acid and gummy worms so Williams would still be pretty crazy in his own right.

In terms of his musical output Williams also plays it the straightest of his recent companions. As far as weird albums go Williams’s debut Smoke is restrained which luckily keeps it from being obnoxious something that can’t always be said about Girl Talk or Dan Deacon.

Smoke rides along on an affable glam-meets-electro guitar-synth-and-drum chug that isn’t unlike a more frazzled Spoon. Williams definitely lets his freak flag fly but his oddball leanings are never the focus of his songs. Instead they’re Easter eggs. “Headlines” features some playful robotic backup vocals and an electronic clamour but it’s the song’s melody and catchy refrain that draw attention. “In the Club” threatens to sprint off on any number of tangents but the song’s powerful T. Rex guitar riff keeps it on track. “Going Down” finds Williams at his most vocally aloof and high sounding but an irresistible bass line talks him down.

With the exception of segue track “Lice in the Rainbow” Smoke doesn’t bash listeners over the head with its more bizarre elements. Instead it sucks them in with knockout hooks and a relentless groove. Only after they’re really caught on the sugary choruses will they notice that they’re reciting Count Duckula line for line with a pack of fuzzy jackalopes and they won’t even question whether there was something besides sour gum balls in that last handful.