Published Oct 21, 2019In 2019, it's a rite of passage for newer rock groups to endure speculation about whether or not rock is dead. Sure, the music doesn't occupy the same spots on the pop charts it once did, and it's not uncommon for literally any band with guitars and some kind of resemblance to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath or Nirvana to be anointed the "saviours" of rock. But it's not really dead, is it?
White Reaper's response to this conundrum is telling: "I kind of don't care," says frontman Tony Esposito. Their brand of rock is a typical one — loud, fast, energetic and loaded with pop hooks. But it's also the sound of a band who don't feel burdened by the task of carrying the torch of rock music, and with no interest in what classic rock purists think.
You Deserve Love continues down the path of the tighter, poppier tunes found on The World's Best American Band, with catchy guitar lines and strong hooks. Tracks like "Headwind" and "Saturday" pick up where "Judy French" left off, and show growth in the band's style of pop songwriting. The reckless punk abandon of White Reaper Does It Again has been toned down substantially, but hints of it can still be found in the double-time stylings of "Raw." There are moments when the band seem more interested in sounding like the Cars than the Ramones, but their songwriting is strong enough that they can still have it both ways.
You Deserve Love packs plenty of pop hooks into its short runtime without losing any of its rock swagger. White Reaper are playing like they have nothing to lose on You Deserve Love, and the record is all the better for it. (Elektra)