Whitehorse's brazen sonic breadth encompasses psychedelic surf, arid border rock, lo-fi ingenuity and icy 80's sparseness. New album, Panther In The Dollhouse, brings a twist to Whitehorse's studio approach with the addition of beats and bleeps from NYC hip-hop production duo Like Minds (Kanye West, Snoop Dogg). But while each new album sees the duo's sound evolve, the essence of Whitehorse's musical identity remains their dizzying guitar playing and vocal chemistry.
On Panther In The Doll house, Whitehorse delves deep into body politics and explores questions of consent, self-determination and, ultimately, freedom, largely from the perspective of women. Layers of retro psychedelic pop bubble up on "Nighthawks," a song that explores the constructs of perpetrator and victim on the streets. Panther In The Doll house is packed with inventive sonic elements and neo-noir drama, full of flawed characters, foiled plans and anti-fairytales.
On one end of the spectrum there are varieties of the Begonia which can be a dark, grievous, rough around the edges. And on the other end, a petite and elegant flower. In between, the plant attempts to harmonize its two poles, forming an array of varieties that each borrow from the delicate and the unseemly. It is in this same vein that Begonia (Alexa Dirks) finds herself, trying to find a balance.
Known for her voice in the Juno Award winning harmony driven group Chic Gamine, Dirks has a timbre that recalls the golden age of soul, proud and courageous. And yet it still returns to the ground, finding a quietness, a hesitant intimacy. Joined in studio by producers Matt Schellenberg (Royal Canoe) and Matt Peters (Royal Canoe, Close Talker), the collection of songs that forms Begonia’s Lady In Mind lets the extremes of Dirks’ past and present coalesce into a sound that is both battle hymn and breakbeat body mover, incorporating themes which are confident in and of themselves, and yet sometimes caught in the middle.