In August 2010 Thomas White, after a decade on the road with The Electric Soft Parade, The Brakes and British Sea Power and following the death of his mother, took himself off on holiday. Firstly to Dubai, then onto Egypt. On arrival in Egypt, White realised he didn’t much like it and wasn’t having the time of his life. Fortunately the troubador was armed with an acoustic guitar and a laptop and so spent his days in his documenting backwards a story that has often been; the story of a man somewhere quite drab dreaming of glorious sunshine. White was somewhere beautiful in the sun but was dreaming of home; specifically Brighton in the drabness of autumn. Whatever the circumstances, though, a delicious record came of it.
White’s previous record, The Maximist, was his David Bowie moment, a bombastic stop of glam-punk. Yalla! is White’s Beatles moment. The spirit of Lennon and McCartney run down the spine of this record, as if they were sat in that hotel room in Dahab. Opening track ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ oozes regret; ‘I’ll See Her Again’ is a tale of lost love that appears to have picked up the baton from Elliott Smith, the same one that was mistakenly picked up by Graham Coxon. ‘The Heavy Sunshine Sound’ is his finest Lennon/McCartney impression with the moods and shades turning from dark to light and back again as quick as his voice moves.
At times White sounds like he’s about to enjoy himself with a big soaring chorus but then he pulls it all back to the bleak; that post-tragedy feeling where life should never be enjoyed again and that any feelings to the contrary are self-indulgent. ‘I’ve Seen the Sunrise’ documents lost love and loneliness but muddles it with the highs and the feeling that all is not lost.
The one criticism of this record is that the pill tastes a little bit dull after 7-8 songs of the same shade. A stunning record but one to be eaten in reasonable sized chunks but if you’re feeling melancholic then pop it on repeat and it’ll soothe your soul.
Throughout Yalla! White seems as homesick-for and rooted in Brighton and his favourite landmarks that he lists, as it is possible to be. He’s a veteran of the music scene there having burst onto the scene aged 17 with the much-hyped Electric Soft Parade and having been around for over a decade and been in more bands than Mike Patton (possible exaggeration), it is easy to think of White as a veteran but at 27 you hope he’s just getting started and has enough melancholy to make a record like Yalla! at least once more.