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.







Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.


Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.


Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.


Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.


The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.


A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.