The White Rabbits are that overfriendly high school junior in the pleated chinos who somehow ends up sleeping with the hottest senior gymnast at a party he wasn’t invited to via sheer dorky charisma alone. Nearly embarrassing levels of enthusiasm, sincerity, and energy inform Fort Nightly, the band’s surprisingly meaty debut. Rousing first single “The Plot” is enough to make Say Hi to Your Mom, Bishop Allen, and French Kicks—all similarly indie-pop–oriented, twee-leaning bands the White Rabbits have played with—put down their plastic cups and take notes.
A sextet of twentysomethings who publicly admit to liking ska, the White Rabbits moved here from Columbia, Missouri, less than two years ago and have since become municipal rock stars, if the vast expanse of bobbing brunette ponytails at their live shows is any indication. All this despite an exploding tour-van tire, an outbreak of bedbugs in their Bushwick loft, and the unfortunate influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger in their songwriting. Furthermore, damning the notion of too many cooks, all six Rabbits contribute to Fort Nightly‘s bubbling broth, with melody and hooks somehow rising to the surface above a cacophony of guitars, drums, and brass. (Not to mention a pair of elementary school kids singing a chorus.)
You get the sneaking suspicion the White Rabbits may not have a raging egomaniac among them. Steve Patterson is the closest thing to a conductor, singing and spanking his Helpinstill piano “Positively 4th Street”–style. That piano probably explains the band’s frequent comparisons to the Walkmen, but the Rabbits’ sound is more immediate, employing none of that fuzzy sonic dissonance indie rockers use to put a wall between themselves and the listener. Nuanced arrangements are certainly not what they had in mind on “Kid on My Shoulders” and “I Used to Complain Now I Don’t,” songs that employ three drummers simultaneously. But who was the asshole who decided rock bands were supposed to be subtle in the first place?
White Rabbits play Bowery Ballroom June 2, boweryballroom.com.