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Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Music Album Reviews

Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit a tense, beautiful, lo-fi landmark from the second wave of black metal.
In the fall of 1971, a child is born in a remote village in Norway. He will one day rechristen himself Fenriz, after the Earth-swallowing wolf, Fenrir, who appears in Norse mythology and the Satanic Bible. But for now, he is Gylve Nagell, being raised by his grandmother, spending inordinate amounts of time alone. The pivotal moments of his childhood occur while listening to records, music introduced to him by an eccentric uncle named Stein. Pink Floyd catches his ear; a few songs by the Doors hold his attention; but it’s the English progressive rock band Uriah Heep that blows his mind. He’s entranced by the heavy organ sound, the cryptic lyrics, and the mysterious men with long hair who appear on the album’s cover. He cherishes the triple-fold LP like an heirloom from…

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Whitney - Forever Turned Around Music Album Reviews

The Chicago band’s second album dials back their beaming, golden-hour soft rock to a gentle lull.

Whitney’s music lives in the harmonious space where contemporary indie rock melts into ’70s soft rock. It’s part of what makes them so easy to enjoy, like a nuzzle from someone else’s dog. They sound nice, simple, scruffy, which doesn’t always amount to compelling music, but the band’s palatability works in their favor. At this point, Whitney are a phenomenon, a commodifiable entity. They’re legends in their hometown of Chicago: They have their own holiday and a beer named in their honor. Even to the casual indie-rock listener, they’re inescapable. And rare as it may seem, the reason for the fervor is because they’re actually good.


Their second album, Forever Turned Around, is welcoming and wooly, yet slightly more isolated and somber than its 2016 predecessor. There aren’t any standouts here, no “Golden Days” equivalent that you could bop along to at a cookout. Instead, Whitney dial it back to a gentle lull. Forever Turn Around ends up being meandering, sleepy sometimes to a fault, a charmingly doe-eyed take on the kind of classic rock revivalism that plays well at music festivals.

Forever Turned Around is a study in environments for falling in and out of love, finding beauty in the little things, and meditating on the passage of time. The imagery comes in the form of redwood trees, rhododendrons in bloom, and dewy grass on a cool morning. On “My Life Alone,” co-frontman Julien Ehrlich sings of “lonely nights/Waiting for the sunrise” and passing the time by watching “rivers roll,” while swelling horns and honeyed guitar stretch into AM-radio rock territory. “Valleys (My Love),” a reflection on the late stages of a relationship, is a more effective environment for Whitney to explore what it means to feel lovelorn. Fingerpicked guitar meets vintage organ, warming the space around Ehlrich’s words like blush blended into a cheek. The lyrics feel stark in comparison: “I feel like I’m holding on/To a place in your heart that’s long gone,” he sings, his voice heavy with melancholy.

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At its worst, Forever Turned Around is a bit boring. If you listen to it too many times you might forget it’s on; it blends into the background easily. But the mood it conjures is surprisingly rich. The album plays out like a gorgeous day at the end of the summer and the bittersweet calm that follows as the weather gets cooler. It encapsulates the idea of the saddest and most perfect time of year: You put on a song as buoyant as “Giving Up,” or “Rhododendron,” and you see a version of yourself that you may have lost touch with. Whitney haven’t changed much since their last album, and truthfully we don’t expect them to. They’ll keep releasing beaming soft rock albums coated in golden-hour light. But dependability is its own kind of virtue. Like holidays and beers, Whitney are the same each time.


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