Published Jul 06, 2017Open-minded fans will surely be enamoured by Whitehorse's bold stylistic switch-up on Panther in the Dollhouse, revelling in the former folk-rockers' irresistibly upbeat and electro-infused tunes like "Boys Like You." But the most lasting song on the LP — founding duo and married couple Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet's fourth Whitehorse effort — has a gentler tone that nevertheless tackles one of the biggest issues of the day with fearless abandon.
"Kicking Down Your Door" isn't the lead single, but it'll grab listeners' attention more than any of Panther's other songs because of McClelland and Doucet's despondent crooning about "accusations growing like weeds" along with young men in their "hand me down parkas" contending with xenophobic "desperados," all over a backdrop of tip-toeing percussion and mournful guitar riffage.
"We wrote that song around the time that Syrian refugees began pouring into Canada, and also at a time during the U.S. election when Trump was spouting about building a wall," McClelland says of the song's marginalized muses. "We wanted to explore how it feels to be a young person coming from a desperate situation, when people welcome you with open arms and also hold you at arm's length. Our song is an attempt to empathize and wrap heads around that."
Part of their lyrical empathy stems from parenthood, something that McClelland says has "coloured everything we do. Not in a conscious way, but certainly in the way we view the world. The scarier aspects of life seem a little more dire now than three years ago when I wasn't a mom."
Yet McClelland is quick to add that most of her emotions have been affected that way, something that will be more than evident when fans hear the gleeful gumption of "Boys Like You," the smouldering blues-rock swagger of "Trophy Wife," the punchy garage rock of "Pink Kimono," and the hungrily eclectic, devil-may-care attitude that pervades those and other Panther songs.
Indeed, McClelland says she and Doucet raising their toddler together has "also made the beautiful things in life come into clearer focus." That's true for undertakings that may seem arduous, like touring with a little one in tow. "I'm enjoying being on the road in a new way, because I'm seeing it through his eyes."
Doucet wholeheartedly agrees, saying parenthood brings a new urgency to penning both dark, big issue numbers like "Kicking Down Your Door," and more lighthearted cuts like "Pink Kimono."
"This is my second go as a dad; I also have a daughter who is 21, and when she was born, everything seemed more important," he says. He quickly points out that it "doesn't mean everything is more serious. It means you have to raise a kid and you don't have as much free time, so having fun is more important and you really go for it. And it means loving things is more important."
He finishes that thought with a line that would fit any of their fantastic new album's songs: "Whatever you do, once you reach that point, just has more weight."