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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wax Idols channel downtrodden British vibes on ‘Discipline and Desire’

    Wax+Idols+channel+downtrodden+British+vibes+on+Discipline+and+Desire

    From the outset of Wax Idols’ Discipline and Desire, it seems that the Oakland post-punk four piece belongs somewhere other than its native California. Rather, its sound, from the first notes of “Elegua,” to the darkwave nod “AD RE IAN,” channels the bitter and ethereal nature of The Smiths, whose sound was appropriated to drab British landscapes — but that’s not to say that Wax Idols sits on the same plane as the iconic emo-pop behemoths.

    However, Wax Idols does offer a nice entry point into the typically downtempo sentiment of post-punk, rarely detracting from the plodding pace that characterizes the majority of the album.

    Instead of offering brazen political sentiments like Morrissey and company, Wax Idols infuses the post-punk equation with snarling apathy that’s the effect of a generation raised on Nirvana and Soft Kill.

    Songs such as album midpoint “Formulae” find vocalist/dominatrix Hether Fortune barking out pre-dystopian imagery over swirling shoegaze guitar and a driving drumbeat for an effect that’s delightfully unsettling.

    That kind of darkness is present throughout the record, whether Fortune is denouncing religion on “When It Happens” or implying isolation on “Dethrone.” However, it’s “Dethrone”’s shoegaze melody and lyricism alike that make it the standout cut on Discipline and Desire.

    From the lo-fi, jangly guitars that give way to a soaring chorus, “Dethrone” marks the best production value on the record, hearkening to Joy Division’s cult reign of the early ‘80s.

    Discipline and Desire isn’t pop music for the faint of heart, or for even the Williamsburg crowd. It’s an album for those who choose to take action instead of mulling it over in a coffee shop, as there’s nary a song on Discipline and Desire that couldn’t be turned into a war chant. There’s little about Wax Idols’ approach that’s ironic or self-serving, choosing to dream rather than reflect — however, those dreams seem to manifest most often into nightmares.

    But it’s really album opener “Stare Back,” which seems to be an exercise in early Yeah Yeah Yeahs styling, that is the pinnacle of the brooding unease that’s felt throughout the record.

    Whether it’s lines like “I love the twisted and hideous faces/I love them dead most of all,” or Fortune’s maniacal pre-chorus laughing, “Stare Back” is the black and bloodstained ribbon on the neat little package that is Discipline and Desire.

    Like The Smiths, Wax Idols has something to say while being just melodic enough for the first-time listener — whether or not you can grasp the band’s malignant nature is up to you.

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