From the success of Vampire Weekend to the attention given the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland, there’s a renewed interest in world music among indie-rock bands. But White Arrows frontman Mickey Church’s familiarity with aboriginal sounds and imagery isn’t a fad—his father was a student of African percussion, and Church received his undergraduate degree in shamanistic ritual. And while the Los Angeles group’s debut may benefit from good timing, Dry Land Is Not A Myth subtly guides the trend rather than following it. Striking a well-balanced blend of electronic, rock, and global instrumentation, and relying on easily digestible dance-friendly rhythms, the album never feels like forced experimentation.
Beginning with “Roll Forever,” which alternates between stabbing guitar and bubbling keyboards, Church—who was legally blind until doctors restored his sight at age 11—increasingly paints the record with a kaleidoscope of colors, while stopping short of aimless shoegaze soundscapes. Though some tracks, such as “Coming Or Going,” come off as typical acid-house jams, the band’s pop songs—using thundering drums, breezy atmospherics, and soaring choruses—are defined by their viscerally visual effects. Bright and vibrant, Dry Land Is Not A Myth evokes a yearning escapism, fueled by playful energy that both sparks the imagination and compels movement. By the time the record reaches rollicking closer “Fireworks Of The Sea,” which jangles with the carefree clamor of a Caribbean beach dance party, the album has spanned continents and a quarter-century of time, progressing from Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel’s fusion of world styles into an album that sounds organic and contemporary—and like much more than a musical fashion statement.