My wife and I recently jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, which means I finally understand the Internet meme pictured above. Perhaps you’ve seen it before, warning people of a powerful force that’s approaching from just beyond the horizon. I can think of no better way to describe the impending release of Matthew E. White’s Big Inner.
You could hear the rumblings months ago, when tracks from the Richmond band leader’s debut solo album started appearing on sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum. That rumbling has grown into a roar over the past few days, with a Style Weekly cover story and Consequence of Sound profile that in no uncertain terms paint Big Inner as a breakthrough effort — one that promises to be a significant achievement for the prominent Richmond collaborator and the creative community he’s helped foster.
If you think all of this is an exercise in hype generation, just click here. It’s a full stream of Big Inner that White posted on Tuesday. What you’ll find is a set of substantial and painstaking songs that validate every bit of praise that’s been heaped their way over the past few months. What’s most remarkable is that this impassioned and widespread reaction could be inspired by music that exercises such remarkable restraint. One of White’s quotes from the Consequence of Sound profile put into words the thing I’ve been enjoying most about his album:
I’m so concerned about my music lasting. I want it to be something that withstands the press cycle… It affects the guitar tone you’re using, or what kind of compressor you use on the drums. Is this something that is really hip that people will love now, or is this more conservative and will make sense in the long-term view of art and what I’m trying to create…
Between White’s soft-spoken delivery, his arrangements’ sturdy construction, and the delicate layering of background elements, songs like “One Of These Days” and “Big Love” offer the kind of brilliance you lean in to hear, and are rewarded handsomely for doing so. So much so that from beginning to end, the album reads like a Best Of American Music anthology, with rock, gospel, soul, and R&B all working together to form a rousing creative statement that’s as easy to enjoy as it is to admire.
I may not be wielding a badass sword like Ned Stark is in the picture above, but I’m telling everyone that will listen about Matthew E. White, because Big Inner’s August 21 release date will be here before we know it, and the roar we’re hearing is both well-founded and worth heeding. Check out/download the first two tracks from the album below, click here to snag the “One Of These Days” 7-inch (which I was pleased to find comes with some fun extras), click here to pre-order the LP, and click here to pre-order Big Inner from iTunes.