On 2009’s Fits, White Denim opened the garage door on its punky, funky sound, spiking it with humid psychedelia, lessons in Rock En Español, and surprisingly effective use of Cowsills-like vocal harmonies. On its follow-up, D, the band doesn’t just leave the driveway—it ditches the road entirely. What follows is a bit of bumpy experimentalism that adds some slack to Fits’ chopped-and-cranked take on classic rock. With the right amount of rhythmic grounding from drummer Josh Block and bassist Steve Terebecki, this leads to knotty head-bobbers like “Drug” and “Anvil Everything”; when guitarists James Petralli and Austin Jenkins gain room to stretch and vamp—as on the wiggly “Burnished” and its instrumental companion piece, “At The Farm”—the results are akin to a more controlled version of Phish.
As with jam bands, there’s a sense that D really lives live—though the flute trills fluttering through “River To Consider” and the fusion of Western swing and chamber-pop on the album closer, “Keys,” find the members of White Denim using their studio time wisely. “And it’s nothing like what you’d thought it’d be,” Petralli sings in the record’s early goings. There’s a summarization of D’s sometimes enthralling, sometimes maddening capriciousness in there, but it’s also a declaration of the off-road paths the band will cut in the future.