There’s a carefully crafted unity to Warehouse’s sophomore LP, Super Low, which allows the listener to appreciate the scope of the album while buried in the intricacies of individual lyrics and melodies. It’s a difficult feat, and one best exemplified by the tapestried sounds of Roxy Music and XTC. Such bands are hallowed company for Warehouse, but the high praise shouldn’t be surprising considering Super Low was one of our most anticipated records of 2016.
Although the band burst onto the scene with a chaotic reinterpretation of ’80s college rock, their sound has grown more crisp and complex in the ensuing years. The 10-track album is less reliant on angular guitar riffs than their 2014 debut, Tesseract, but only insofar as the guitar work is woven into a more holistic interpretation of pop, one that relies on Elaine Edenfield’s evolving vocal range as much as Doug Bleichner’s polished drumming.
In 2014, there was an ecstatic energy to Warehouse that made even their most obscure lyrics and challenging melodies palatable. With Super Low, that energy hasn’t been muted so much as it’s taken root within a wider musical narrative, one best exemplified by Edenfield’s singing. When the group formed, her earthy growl seemed to be a matter of convenience. Though she was indebted to Pylon’s Vanessa Briscoe Hay, her vocal intensity wasn’t so much an affectation as an inability to hear herself in the band’s noisy practice space. Though she integrated some clean vocals on Tesseract that hinted at her range, this is the first record that displays Edenfield’s mastery of sonic texture. Nearly every track on the album showcases a different facet of her voice, whether it’s the unbridled aggression on “Exit Only,” the rich clarity on “Reservoir,” or the intimate whisper on “Long Exposure.”
Warehouse is a band with high artistic, if not commercial, ambitions. However, despite the media buzz surrounding the group, their place on NY’s Bayonet Records, and their growing friendship with DIY darling Frankie Cosmos, Warehouse remains rooted in the South. The title of album is a reference to a food mart near the penitentiary, across the street from the house where the band wrote most of record, and though they initially tracked Super Low in Brooklyn, they eventually returned home and recorded at the Living Room. It feels appropriate for a band who owes so much to bands from Athens to hold on to their Atlanta identity, and it’s a meaningful decision when it’s so easy for emerging artists to be pulled away by the lure of the Northeast.
The vivid clarity of Super Low isn’t drawn from a newfound simplicity, instead it’s built on the band members maturing as individuals and as a community. Yet even if the group has developed a better understanding of their own sound, they are still wary of being defined by genre, sound, or scene. For a band like Warehouse, who so easily defy expectation, the danger of getting adjectivized to death is a real threat. Yet, beyond the tangled guitars and rich ambience there exists a group of humans who’ve pushed through the “art-punk” snobbery and bullshit to create a singular masterpiece. Just don’t ask them to define it.
Super Low will be released tomorrow via Bayonet Records. Pre-orders are available here.
Warehouse will celebrate the release of Super Low tomorrow, September 30, at Murmur. Supporting them will be Breathers, Free Pizza (TN), and Pallas. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $7. All ages.