I call my parents every Sunday afternoon without fail. It has become a tradition ever since I began school in Minnesota and left my home in New Hampshire five years ago. The conversations mostly go the same way; how’s work, how’s school, how’s the car, have you listened to any new music recently?
The last question usually stumps me.
Of course I’ve heard new music, I listen to new music constantly, but I’m hard-pressed to rave about the new Lil Yachty mixtape or how the Madvillain record still holds up. It wasn’t until I heard the new Whitney record Light Upon the Lake that I finally had something concrete that my dad could enjoy, and it had everything: catchy guitar hooks, horn flourishes, and lyrics that could be understood upon first listen. And of course he got back to me and loved it. While I at first rejoiced at the fact that I found something current my dad and I both enjoyed.
I then had a question I just couldn’t shake; is Whitney a Dad Rock band?
Whitney is an Indie rock outfit from Chicago, Illinois whose members make up a smorgasbord of other great groups. Drummer and lead singer Julien Ehrlich formerly drummed in the psych-garage-disco band Unknown Mortal Orchestra, while guitarist Max Kakacek played in fellow Chicago act Smith Westerns. These two form the backbone of what is my most replayed album of the year so far.
The two members began writing songs from the perspective of the character “Whitney,” an eager muse looking for love and happiness despite his best efforts. The songs are catchy and immediate, with Kakacek’s plucky guitar stretching over the entirety of Light Upon the Lake. The lyrics are simple and heartfelt, finding a perfect balance between the specificity of the Whitney character while also being universal in their delivery and impact.
Now how did I know my dad would enjoy Light Upon the Lake?
The music spreads itself out and touches so many genres that it is easy to pick up on immediate influences. Record standout “Dave’s Song” sounds like it could have been a B-side on Hall & Oates’ soulful second record Abandoned Luncheonette, while the titular track’s plucky guitars and harmonized chorus reek with Crosby Stills and Nash.
Whitney’s Light Upon the Lake is an escape; an escape to a simpler time and place where it is difficult to remember music that can be so harsh and gritty. It’s music for shared moments, and who better would I want to share the moment with than the person who shaped my musical tastes.