I have a hunch that if anyone else had written “White Light”, the first single off of Waterstrider’s upcoming album Nowhere Now, the guitar riff in the chorus would have come in a half-second sooner on the down beat, giving it a booming epic Led Zeppelin feel. But nope, it comes in on the off-beat, and it makes the song lean like a big ship veering portside. You’re robbed of that instantly gratifying moment, but in exchange you’re given a sort of long-term investment; that little guitar trick is just one of countless nuances overflowing throughout “White Light” and sneaking their way into your ears.
Bringing to mind Dirty Projectors’ “Offspring Are Blank,” this is a song that could so easily go for those big stadium-rock moments, but instead opts for precision and puzzling quirks. From the squiggling guitars that open the track, to the bass that lurches up and down like a rollercoaster and the polyrhythmic percussion, “White Light” rewards repeat listens. At its heart are Nate Salman’s detailed vocal melodies. Over lyrics exploring the notion of celebrity (“Lauded for your white light…fearless as a young lion”) Salman takes the time to explore all of the cracks and crevices in his melodies, making the verses and the bridge just as catchy as the chorus.
Whether you want to listen to it as a rock song or a studied composition, “White Light” is proof that a song doesn’t need huge hooks to still get indefinitely stuck in your head. The best news is that there’s more on the way. Listen to “White Light” below.