Wednesday, March 27, 2013

REVIEW: Wax Idols - Discipline & Desire

The sophomore album, Discipline & Desire, from Oakland's Wax Idols should have at least two results.  One is that those who pigeonholed the band's music as "garage" based on 2011's No Future will have to expand their horizons.  The other, and more important, result is that Wax Idols should be put on the roster of bands to expected to make a significant mark.

The album starts out with an aggressive blast of post punk in "Stare Back" furious guitar backing off to an insistent rhythm and chanting vocals, and then back to the furious guitars.  Just as Dorthy knew she wasn't in Kansas (duh, Munchkins!), we know that we aren't in a Bay Area garage.  "Sound of a Void" begins with a vocal challenge, but we don't have to wait long for the guitars and rhythm section.  It is clear at this point that Discipline & Desire is going to deliver an intense ride.  Track 3, "When it Happens" has a more pop/new wave feel, but yields nothing in terms of pace and bite.

After "Formulae", which is one of my favorites on the album, the tempo slows a bit for "Scent of Love" -- a track which reminds me a bit of Siouxsie and the Banshees and boasts intriguing percussion.  Following are the new wave anthem "Dethrone" and the feedback drenched masterpiece that is "AD RE: IAN" --

"Cartoonist", Elegua" and "Stay In" provide a strong close to the album.  "Elegua", in particular, is a hauntingly memorable mid-tempo song which backs off the decibels, but not the intensity.

I liked Wax Idol's debut quite a bit (I recall that it was a top 20 album for the year on my 2011 list), but Discipline & Desire is better -- more consistent, more melodic and has higher production values.  The instruments present cleanly and the echoing vocals are high enough in the mix to give appropriate import to the statements and questions posed by the band.  Some may find it less accessible (and my appreciation grew with repeated listens), I'm very impressed with the band's ability to craft such a strong a set of deliciously dark songs.  The album also is notably visceral; they aren't just expressing their pain and frustration, they are inviting you to share it.

Wax Idols are Heather Fortune (vocals and guitar), Jen Mundy (rhythm guitar and vocals), Rachel (drums), and Amy Rosenoff (bass).  Discipline & Desire is out now on Slumberland Records.

Slumberland Records

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