Album Review: Whitehorse – Panther in the Dollhouse

Whitehorse is a Canadian folk rock duo composed of musically phenomenal husband and wife Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland and Panther in the Dollhouse is the latest in a long line of albums and EPs. Most importantly however, the album cover is some kind of psychedelic cat which is indicative of the versatile and somewhat eccentric music you are about to behold.

Panther in the Dollhouse is one of those rare albums that you can’t help but find mesmerising every second from start to finish. However, despite their assigned status of being ‘folk rock’, actually categorising them as this does feel unjustified and almost limiting as their work actually spans a lifetime of genres and incorporates everything from electro, rock, pop, folk, indie, alternative and a world more. Their music is a hurricane of elements which at time sound almost familiar – perhaps there is a fleeting moment in there where you can hear the likes of The Eels – but as quick as the thought came it’s gone and you’ve never find the same note that made you think of it again. Panther in the Dollhouse is an album that is crafted so well that it feels as though the music is still evolving as you listen to it. This fact is not lessened by repetitive listening either, it continues to retain an element of surprise at all times as each listen reveals new subtle nuances that you missed previously. The music that the duo is absolutely resplendent, overwhelmingly powerful and draws on influences from genres the world over – as their deep bass lines, edgy guitars and eager organ tunes rumble around you, you simply cannot help but get your feet moving.

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Atop their breath-taking music is the fact that both Doucet and McClelland each have absolutely stunning vocals. Sultry tunes as such Trophy Wife show off McClelland’s powerful, soulful and softly sweetened voice to its full extent. There is a slightly soft and smoky element to her voice that is evocative of the jazz of the 1920s and 30s. This voice overlaid with such a versatile juxtaposition of where you would expect it to be makes for some of the most compelling tunes that will echo through your mind long after the track is finished. Doucet has a voice that is soft, emotive and utterly inimitable. His voice is brought to life with a raw power and passion that is contagious. Yet, despite their considerable talents as individuals it isn’t until the duo come together that you understand what Whitehorse really have to offer. As the duo untie their voices, crystalline harmonies emerge that are utterly mesmerising and make you catch your breath. Combine this with their versatile and daring music and you have a collection of stunning songs that you will never tire of.

Powerful, passionate and personal, the music that Whitehorse produces is an endless fusion of genres that constantly swirl and undulate to create the perfect collection of electro-folk-rock-pop songs that shake you to the core and get your feet pounding the ground. Panther in the Dollhouse is a stunning album rife with catchy tunes and melodies that you’ll never shift from your mind – an unmissable addition to anyone’s music collection.

Review by Joe Knipe