Released: September 2014
Showcasing a variety of sounds and vibes that fuse indie pop with ska and glam rock, Will and the People have traversed a road as wild and unpredictable as their musical output. They’ve toured with a peculiar mix of artists from Paolo Nutini and Jamie Cullum to Girls Aloud, have strong fan-bases in countries like Cambodia, Singapore and Holland, and have played for the Nigerian president. It’s no surprise then that the UK band’s third album, Whistleblower, surfs across several continental sounds, presenting finely tuned pop hooks alongside dark reggae beats and unpredictable chord progressions.
This four piece is known across the globe and on the web but rarely attracts notable crowds in their homeland, a fact that is unusual yet understandable as Whistleblower kicks in, the diverse range of sounds refusing to be confined by genre or movement, and certainly nothing like anything in the UK charts right now. On the opening track frontman Will Rendle sings “I’ve got my formula / I’m gonna keep it”. It’s a bold statement that rings true throughout the record; this is a band that knows exactly where it wants to go, refusing to be thrown off course by the all-consuming darkness of conformity.
Formula is certainly one of the strongest tracks on the record, opening with Jack White guitars that mould into a dubstep style build-up before fully getting into the flow of things with simplistic guitars subordinate to soft octave vocals taken straight out of an xx track. The vocals on Whistleblower don’t always sound like they’ve been given as much attention as the rhythmic aspects of the record, but songs such as Trustworthy Rock and Penny Eyes display fine lyricism and experimental call and response harmonies, fleshing out the record with vocal textures as well as instrumental.
The Caribbean-inflected sounds of reggae and ska are on the agenda for most of the record, with the catchy indie pop choruses of Shakey Ground and Lay Me Down supported by more unconventional sounds when it comes to instrumentation. The former sees a manic circus show organ synth progress into an upbeat ska sound that calls upon Madness rhythms whilst the latter changes its style repeatedly, ending on an irresistibly anthemic note with Bowie chords and T-Rex guitars, demonstrably the record’s standout number. The fusion of such diverse styles could in the hands of another band seem derivative, lazy or simply a novelty, but Will and the People drive this collective sound in the right direction, never failing to surprise yet sounding more and more like themselves as the album goes on.
Whistleblower is an album that will draw in listeners from all corners of the music spectrum. Fans of Vampire Weekend and Alt-J can bop along with followers of Madness and The Specials to this record of upbeat rhythms and colourful meandering melodies. It’s a catchy pop record with plenty of texture and a unique recurring sound that could only belong to this act. Will and the People have certainly taken the road less travelled, and if it’s brought them here then there’s no reason not to keep on wandering.