White Sea: In Cold Blood

Before this night is through, White Sea wants to do real bad things with you.

White Sea

In Cold Blood

Label: Crush Music
US Release Date: 2014-05-20
UK Release Date: 2014-05-19

"Dear friend just undress me." That's the opening line on Morgan Kibby’s (aka White Sea's) debut album and, yes, it would appear it is indeed “Business Time”. The actress, multi-instrumentalist and M83 crewmate who co-wrote some of their most treasured tunes – "Midnight City", "Kim & Jessie" – is newly single and ready to mingle and wants nothing less than to sweep you off your feet and generally “tickle your fancy.” Kibby's euphoric vocal gymnastics and wuthering whirlwind of sound blow through In Cold Blood like a feral spirit unchained, unleashed, unbound. Best lock away your breakables and delicates. Though it’s described by its maker as "a break-up record," it's clearly a break-up that's more "WOO! HOO!" than "BOO! HOO!" Folks welcome to White Sea's sensual world ...

In Cold Blood is all about the rapture. The rhapsody. The release. From the first burst of recent single "They Don't Know," this is a record willing to whip off all its clothes and run wildly down the street “as nature intended,” waving its arms in the air like it just don't care. "As we head for the cosmic dust / We know how it's gonna end!" A wide-eyed, elated moment of clarity in the hours before Armageddon time. Epic, gospel-tinged and burnin' bright with ecstatic joie de vivre, it's Kibby swinging on the church bells deliriously daring the world to "split me in two" whilst a flock of white doves all but fly out of the sun. Sure it's a bit like being groomed for some new age “suicide cult” but damn, who could resist when it all sounds like such fun?

This almost relentless lust for life and hunger to "walk on fuckin' sunshine" proves infectiously inviting. The brazen "Prague" is as funkily whipsmart and sassy as St. Vincent sharing a picnic in Paisley Park. Its pulsating predator pound is steamy, slinky and sultry, "Can I stop the want? / For anyone in my bed / Anyone / Anyone I can fuck." In Cold Blood ain't no wallflower. The luxurious, poptasmic Mark Ronson hook-up "Future Husbands Past Lives" pitches itself between True Blue-era Madonna and Sophie B. Hawkin's ravenous "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover." Kibby's extraordinary rollercoaster vocals, sunbeam synths, bubblegum burstin' bass and a steamy hot tub of satisfied sighs. "I'm the only woman in your church" it exhales and it's nigh on impossible not to say three “Hail Mary's” and fall in. The stomping pillage and plunder of "Warsaw" doesn't bother to knock either preferring to burn down the door and drag you by your hair into its romping street march. Unapologetically frank, Kibby tells of "a devil cat with endless lives" who'll "steal your men", "seduce your wives" and ultimately "fuck you blind". Topped off with a Phil Collins worthy drum solo, it'd all be completely ridiculous were it not so triumphantly jolly. Although, it's still slightly ridiculous obviously.

Amongst the rampant booty looting there are some tender traps on In Cold Blood which are equally captivating but, y'know, still not suitable for Vicar's tea parties. "For My Love" is like a drunk on desire Kate Bush rummaging through Prince's drawers and whipping out a stone cold “from-the-vault” bedroom heartbreaker. Top half "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore", bottom half "Little Red Corvette." Over a delicate, 4 a.m. piano intro Kibby cries n' pines before a string-laden Studio 54 climax which flashes intermittently with an unflinching, fatal shot to the heart " ... but you just want that pussy." It's filthy, oh, and it's gorgeous. The sweet "Small December" won't give the PMRC any sleepless nights though. A gentle aside with piano, strings and acoustic guitar, it's more of a “lets-hug-this-out” type of apocalypse. "It's high time / For the wrecking ball to come" it tearfully sobs as the scythe slowly swings.

The only time In Cold Blood finds White Sea veering up the creek without a paddle is oddly during the two Greg Kurstin collaborations which are neatly snuggled together inside the latter half. "NYC Loves You" is a homeward bound, mulleted '80s power ballad which inexplicably finds Kibby belting it out in a white, willowy dress atop a mountain whilst Kurstin records the action from a circling helicopter. It's by no means terrible, but it's a tad generic and noticeably less regally enticing than its bouncing bedfellows. Kibby's feisty humour still raises a smile though, "For a man with big hands / You sure let let me slip through your fingers." The Scooby Doo, arched eyebrow melodrama of "Flash" is a bit rum though. A little too "Tori Amos? ... Trapped in the psychiatric ward!? ...AT NIGHT!?!" bombastic to convince. "Say whatever filth you want / I was ever all you need" it scrawls across the wall, possibly in crayon. Luckily "It Will End in Disaster" delivers a finale the listener and Kibby deserve. Our guide's spirit, now bruised and battleworn, begins a determined "Cloudbusting" slow stride up the hill before the "Devil horse" breaks toward a thundering "I Will Survive" ascent. A final sweep into the hurricane. Like most of In Cold Blood, it races with open-armed acceptance not sheepish reluctance, "You will be loved / And it will end in disaster".

In Cold Blood is a seductive, sophisticated and hot-blooded debut simmering with feverish desire. A charming, sometimes cheeky, record ripe with unexpected musical flourish, deliciously rich melody, hungry hearts and, yes, heaving bosoms. Kibby's vivacious vocals too are truly a force of nature. Though the magic and the mercury drop a degree in the second half, In Cold Blood remains refreshingly passionate with an appeal and allure which will surely draw you back for more. Dive in and brace yourself for a good ol' ravishing.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.