Blowing away expectation early in your career is a bold move, but no less than you might expect of a feverishly creative, stereotype-averse band like White Denim. Presented at the end of April, their calling card, ‘Let’s Talk About It’ is a blistering statement of the Austin trio’s intent – a thrillingly urgent, free-spirited, yet terrifyingly taut exercise in garage punk that booted its references (MC5, Minutemen, Devo) into post-millennial touch, while sending out a simple yet heartfelt message about the importance of band-audience communication. It left one impressive scorch mark, but now that smoke from the single is clearing, White Denim are dispensing with any sort of rulebook for their debut album due in June 08.

With ‘Workout Holiday’ (the title refers to the fact that most of the graft was done in time out from their blue-collar day jobs), James Petralli (guitar, vocals), Steve Terebecki (bass) and Josh Block (drums) vault clean over the boundaries of garage rock. Sure, they’ve played in punk/noise bands before, but they’ve also variously completed formal jazz education and dabbled in multiple genres and outfits. Which is maybe why, when pushed to pick their own pigeonhole, they opt simply for “sound collage”. Entirely reasonable, given that the record ranges across country and new wave, electronica/looped fx and art rock, neo-prog, pop and garage psych. “We’re kind of mischievous; we love to surprise people,” admits Petralli. And how. Opener ‘Let’s Talk About It’ is their raucous yet soulful call-to-arms, immediately taken up by the Sonics and Monks-styled ‘Shake Shake Shake’ (finished in just six hours and bulging with the energy and exhilaration that implies), but ‘Sitting’ – on which Block proves himself a more than capable piano and organ player – affects something that could be akin to Randy Newman’s bittersweet song style (with a crunchier background of course). ‘Mess Your Hair Up’ and ‘Darksided Computer Mouth’ are radically different again. The former is equal parts crazily cartwheeling and brilliantly daring exercise in 3-D production, that flips conventional studio wisdom on its head. It also shows how the band can marvellously turn on a tangential sixpence. The latter is an unhinged, staccato romp that suggests The Stooges and Animal Collective kick-starting a particularly fine party. Elsewhere, the graceful and explorative, instrumental side of White Denim gets to stretch its legs in the light and lovely ‘WDA’, while the conceptually co-dependent ‘Look That Way At It’ and ‘Don’t Look That Way At It’ feed ever more explorations into post-punk/contemporary art pop, gradually surrounding Petralli’s voice in a giddy stomp on the latter track. All this before we get even close to mentioning the ridiculously addictive future single ‘All You Really Have To Do’…… The album demonstrates a breadth and creative brio far beyond that of most young bands, something that is reflected in their ability to groove on everything from Pharoah Sanders to The Monkees (Petralli), Merzbow to Hank Williams (Terebecki) and Paula Abdul to Alexander Scriabin (Block). Equally impressively, White Denim produced the LP themselves – in a studio built inside a silver-metal, 1940s Spartan trailer, parked in the middle of the woods outside of Austin. Block (who lives in an adjacent Imperial Mansion model, vintage-trailer fans) admits that the decision to go DIY was “partly economic, partly emotional. Every time we talk about a producer, I get a little teary!” he jokes, adding that weekend recording sessions were fuelled by “cigarettes, barbeque ketchup and tequila. I’d have a bad day at work or fight with my girlfriend and then seek refuge in the studio – either in the extreme cold or the extreme heat. I’d have the opportunity to get a lot of different ideas down and the guys would just leave me alone. They’d turn up on Saturday and I’d show them what I’d done, which would spark other ideas. That’s probably why the record sounds eccentric – it was us constantly surprising each other.” All admit that the studio exerts even more of a pull on them than the live arena. “I think we’d all really like to turn into XTC,” quips Terebecki. Not that you’d ever guess it from White Denim’s incendiary shows, where band interaction is so highly charged you can practically see the sparks. Block’s excitement often has him leaping from his stool, while Petralli’s highly-charged yelp sometimes spills into silent, ecstatic screaming, his avowedly humanistic approach to lyrics another neat upsetting of garage rock expectations. “The point of pop songs is to be familiar and relatable on a wide scale,” reckons Petralli, who is a big fan of Gertrude Stein’s approach, albeit “simplified to the max, using really common, accessible language to convey basic human experiences and emotions, but in slightly different arrangements. A lot of my lyrics address the process of writing lyrics for a pop group. ‘Let’s Talk About It’ is that simple.” Judging by the reaction at SXSW and their recent London debut, this basic approach is working very well indeed! Conceptual simplicity with structural complexity – it’s a tough balance to strike, but ‘Workout Holiday’ does exactly that, with no fuss and no fakery, but plenty of flair. “We’re humble people,” laughs Petralli. “We have a humble studio and our songs just kind of happen. Without wanting to sound cheesy, honesty is a real big part of the group.” White Denim return to the UK in June for more shows.