Noah Gundersen – White Noise (2017) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Noah Gundersen – White Noise (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz  | Time – 01:07:17 minutes | 711 MB | Genre: Alternative
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Cooking Vinyl

On his third full-length release, White Noise, singer/songwriter Noah Gundersen almost completely leaves behind his tender, murmured folk. The album still holds its share of intimate moments and plenty of emotional intensity but, citing influences like Radiohead (“Sweet Talker”), the Beatles, and Wilco (“New Religion”), the volume is dialed up and, at times, arrangements reach symphonic arena rock levels. That’s a first for Gundersen, but the choice isn’t without meaning. Intended as “sensory overload” inspired by primal drives like love, lust, and fear, White Noise came together in 2016; the song “Dry Year” was recorded on the night of the U.S. presidential election.

The album announces its intent by opening with ominous electronic distortion followed by rugged drums and electric guitar (in sharp contrast to the a cappella harmony vocals that opened his debut). “After All (Everything All the Time)” eventually climaxes with a wash of droning synths, guitars, and strings worthy of classic the Verve or Coldplay. Subsequent tracks continue in kind, albeit contrasting with quieter passages, on tracks about “Cocaine Sex & Alcohol,” “Fear & Loathing” (which features Greg Leisz on pedal steel), and porn stars (“Bad Actors”). He finally brings it all down and keeps it down on the penultimate “Dry Year,” an acoustic guitar lament (“Some days the world feels like a building on fire but everyone’s ignoring the smoke”). Some of the bolder textures here were introduced on 2015’s Carry the Ghost, but they reach new levels and dominate White Noise to the point that it’s a relief when “Dry Year” and “Sent the Rain (To Everyone)” close the album with half-whispered sentiment. The final track does rebuild, temporarily, as the figurative rain arrives, before closing with what seems like appropriate fatigue. While Gundersen may have succeeded at exactly what he set out to do with White Noise, those spare moments are his wheelhouse, and the rest may come at the expense of songs that compel repeat plays.

01 – After All (Everything All the Time)
02 – The Sound
03 – Heavy Metals
04 – Number One Hit of the Summer (Fade Out)
05 – Cocaine Sex & Alcohol (From a Basement in Los Angeles)
06 – Bad Actors
07 – Fear & Loathing
08 – Sweet Talker
09 – New Religion
10 – Bad Desire
11 – Wake Me Up, I’m Drowning
12 – Dry Year
13 – Send the Rain (To Everyone)