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Album Premiere: The Whiffs Inject a Frenzy of Power Pop Classicism on 'Scratch 'N' Sniff'

Ahead of its official release tomorrow, today we have the pleasure in sharing an exclusive first listen to Scratch 'n' Sniff, the outstanding sophomore album from Kansas City power pop mainstays the Whiffs. Along with the premiere, we caught up with the band to dig into the stories behind each snappy number track by track.

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

The Whiffs are sticking to what they know best with their one-two punch of hopeless romantic power pop on Scratch 'N' Sniff, their second full-length on DIG! Records. Comprised of guitarist-vocalist Rory Cameron, guitarist-vocalist Joey Rubbish (The Rubs), bassist-vocalist Zach Campbell, and drummer Jake Cardwell, the Whiffs have been about two things since bursting onto the Kansas City scene in 2016: big hooks and big choruses. While they've been at the center of the recent power pop revival with their wickedly good earlier releases, Take A Whiff! and Another Whiff, the four-piece have kept busy over the last couple years, bringing out a fuller sound especially with the recruitment of Rubbish.


Scratch 'N' Sniff is the ultimate Whiffs album that shows the band still trading vocals back-and-forth and hammering out their hyper-melodic guitar lines and endless supply of sharp hooks, while sounding more self-assured and tighter than ever before. They tap right into the power pop playbook of confessions on the opener "It's Not Over," which is a callback to the track "Dream About Judy," a slice of the band's raw tonality off Another Whiff. The anthemic, early punk propulsion on "Shot Thru" swings at the listener with its guitar crunch and Rubbish's unabashed vocal prowess that's reminiscent of Kevin Patrick's of New Math and Jet Black Berries. While tracks like "Tired of Romance" and "Might As Well" sound like they could've been late '70s Stiff Records or BOMP! singles, the band takes detours down lonelier roads in the form of broken-hearted jangle pop on "Wanted" and "Won't Go Away."


To help us get to know the new record a little better, we caught up with the band to dig into the stories behind each snappy number track by track.

"It's Not Over"


Rory Cameron: This song has kind of a double meaning, I reference "Judy" in the first line so it's kind of a call back to our song "Dream About Judy." I wrote this during Covid lockdown when all of our plans for 2020 and onward were dashed and the progress and plans we'd made seemed pointless. So it was kind of written as a reminder for myself that it's not over and the set backs are only temporary.


"Shot Thru"


Joey Rubbish: I wrote this about someone that comes into your life and fucks it up and is out the door before you know what hit you. Definitely drew on the Cars for the song structure and aesthetic.

"Wanted"


Zach Campbell: This is a song about being duped by love, or taken advantage of. When they are low, you're around to build them back up but, and once that person feels better, that's when they start doubting the importance or need for the relationship.


"Pretender"


RC: I wrote this about that relationship with someone that's been touch-and-go forever. They say all the things you want to hear from them and then don't follow through with any of it. I sort of reference the Exploding Hearts' "I'm a Pretender" but turn it on its head. There's also a passing reference to "Surrender" by Cheap Trick. It's not me, it's you.


"Won't Go Away"


ZC: This is basically a love letter that I never sent. In case you were wondering, it didn't work out.


"Don't Know What Else To Do"


RC: I was really trying to just describe restlessness and the kind of pent up angst about not knowing where you're going. How it feels to be isolated in your feelings and thinking it won't end, but knowing it will.

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

"Tired of Romance"


RC: I wanted to kind of do the Ramones style of "I Don’t Wanna…" antithesis of I guess most of what our songs are about, but it ends up being a love song anyway.


"I Didn't Need You To Know"


JR: This is sort of a Hall & Oats song wrapped in a Bob Seger song. It's about revealing a part of yourself to someone else that ruins your chance at a relationship.


"What They Say"


RC: I wrote this as a sort of an encouragement to keep on doing your thing and damn the naysayers I suppose, maybe a little bit of "it's only rock 'n' roll but I like it" sort of motif.


"Oh Well"


RC: This one is our sort of Britpop Oasis tribute. Lamenting my independent streak as an "oh well" to maybe having to go it alone if that's what it takes.


"Might As Well"


RC: This one's kind of an acquiescence in a rocky relationship that despite how fucked up you both are you might as well just stick it out.

"Romeo"


RC: This was written for a friend who had at lot coming down on them at once and letting them know they weren't alone and kind of asking them not to spiral out and falling back into negative behavioral patterns.


"Verlaine"


ZC: I really wanted to write the "big arena riff" song. It's a bit of a fist pumper so I got close I think. The melody is big, and you can sing along.


The Whiffs' Scratch 'N' Sniff is out March 3rd on DIG! Records.

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