The band consists of just two people: Julien Ehrlich on vocals and drums and Max Kakacek on guitar. Ehrlich grew up in Medford, Oregon and went to high school in Portland, where he was at one point the drummer in Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The duo was once part of the band Smith Westerns before leaving in 2014 and starting Whitney shortly after. One year later, they released “Light Upon the Lake,” a 10-track mellow indie-rock album reminiscent of summer days.
While that project may have been made for warm weather and summer, “Forever Turned Around” does the opposite. This album is for cold weather, introspective walks and drives in the fall and getting sentimental about the past. Though it doesn’t sound like a sad album until you listen to the lyrics, this record is about loss.
The album’s opening track, “Giving Up,” which was released as a single prior to the release of the album, serves almost as a thesis statement for the rest of the nine songs on the album. Though the lyrics are short and relatively straightforward, it’s clear what’s going on: “Waiting for the morning sun/Are you coming home my love?/ Tears are falling one by one/I can feel you giving up.”
This album is about changing relationships. On the Instagram story of Secretly Canadian, the band’s label, they gave a look into the themes of the album, saying it’s about how relationships “evolve or flounder, and how loneliness can creep in unexpectedly.”
Loneliness is a clear concept on the next song, “Used to be Lonely.” On Instagram, the band said they came up with an early demo version they would blast from their windows driving around a small town in Wisconsin, where they wrote it.
The album’s title track, which comes at the very end, is about the harsh reality that nothing lasts forever. With lyrics reading: “Should have seen this coming somehow / The highs keep falling back down / But it gets no better thinking about / The way forever turned around,” it ties the album as an introspective reflection on a past relationship. This melancholy ballad wraps up the project nicely.
Whitney has a unique sound, including subtle horns and the recognizable falsetto voice of Julien Ehrlich. Packed with imagery and a range of musical stylings from country to indie, in just 32 minutes, “Forever Turned Around” is a vulnerable, soft indie-rock album that’s perfect for the transition from summer into fall.
Whitney is playing in Portland two nights in a row, on October 27 and 28, at Revolution Hall.