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“When we broke up, we were burnt out and ground down, but I never stopped being friends with Greg.Over the course of a lifetime, there are constants, and there’s also change.Every record I have a favorite child, and ‘Toy Automatic’ is that here.
It might be the most unbridled vocal I’ve ever done.“People would ask all the time why don’t you record that? Two months after the Whigs’ 2015 tour concluded, the band members reconvened at Nelson’s studio Marigny Sound in New Orleans; within a week, half of the ten songs that would make final tracklist were laid down. Standout “Copernicus” rocks with a thump evoking T.Rex meets Jesus Lizard, while “Arabian Heights” exudes the gutbucket exoticism of writ large, driven by Keeler’s bravura, muscularly tribal cadences.In name and aesthetic alike, “Birdland” seems to pay homage the iconic New York jazz club that provided a crucial venue for greats like Charlie Parker and Lester Young.
However, its title actually serves as a literal reference to a neighborhood in Ross, Ohio where Dulli went to school in his youth, so named because all the streets are evocatively named after birds: Finch, Cardinal, Oriole, and so on.
Mortality was never far from his mind: “I Got Lost” was written in the wake of Dulli learning that longtime collaborator Dave Rosser had been diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer As well, Dulli found himself profoundly affected by the recent passing of many of the icons that inspired him to make music in the first place. On “Arabian Heights,” Rosser thrillingly mirrors Dulli’s vocal melody with winsome slide guitar; elsewhere, “Into the Floor” suggests “The Boys of Summer” chopped and screwed with shoegaze’s lysergic sway.