Between that bewildering news bite and the bitter breakup of New Order, one has to wonder: Who the hell is making important music in Manchester these days? Well, The Whip, for starters. Just ask the Parisians who run Kitsuné Records—a taste-making label/lifestyle company that dropped The Whip's "Divebomb" 12-inch in 2007. Or anyone who's been swept up in the band's limb-loosening gigs over the past year, including a festival-conquering Glastonbury appearance and buzz-stirring shows at CMJ and SXSW.
Sure enough, Mixmag has already linked The Whip to their Mancunian ancestors, calling them "the best example of dance and rock since Happy Mondays." And the NME, well, they've declared the band "the best thing to happen to dance music since James Murphy's delusions of time-travel." While such comparisons are clear starting points for understanding how their songwriting has evolved, The Whip is much more than a rock band that just discovered synths or New Order for the iPod generation.
"We've been doing dance music for a long time," says vocalist/guitarist Bruce Carter, "And while we love the beats and the energy of it, we're also obsessed with Fleetwood Mac's RUMORS. Every part has its place in a record like that, you know?"
Indeed. That's why Carter and The Whip's primary synth/slinger/co-songwriter, Danny Saville, were determined to make their debut album (X MARKS DESTINATION) such a winding collection of 180's. Take "Trash," the group's debut single in the states. While it started as a "story about not wanting to meet people's expectations," Saville and Carter eventually remixed it entirely "to make it more punchy." And by punchy, Carter means looped lyrics and hypnotic hooks, washed down with chug-a-lug chords and the well-oiled rhythm section of drummer Fiona Daniel and bassist Nathan Sudders. With that dynamic duo providing The Whip's heartbeat, and Carter and Daniel coloring in all the lines, the quartet also tackles prickly power ballads with the frayed electronics and nerves of "Save My Soul" and "Sirens," robot rock that brings to mind scuffed leather on "Blackout," midnight drives on "Frustration," and dance floor detonators complete with laser-guided melodies and glimpses of guitar with "Sister Siam" and "Fire."
X MARKS DESTINATION was produced by Jim Abiss, best known for his work with Björk, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. “The album was 90-percent done before we spent a month with Jim," explains Carter. "He was lent a fresh set of ideas and pushed us to make certain bits better, though. Like we wanted to make the end of 'Blackout' a techno wig-out, but he pushed us to go all psychedelic with it."