Posted on August 7th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Magdalene Taylor

For a first polished full-length LP, Australian four piece Deaf Wish doesn’t give many hints at naivety or sophomoric attitude. This debut album, Pain does not follow a single cohesive sound, and indeed jumps styles through the overarching label of punk in a way that a band just figuring itself out might do - but there’s a key difference. Pain seems to offer a sampling of punk’s past, united not concretely by sound but by theme: an anxiousness, a nervous energy, pushed through the distortion and reverb of a simple, sweated guitar riff.

Pain feels strikingly like a cliffhanger. One waits almost in fear to discover what’s next, and even with the knowledge of what is to come you still sit with a feeling of unease. The album transitions through a corner of punk’s styles - opening with “The Whip” we hear echos of the early art school New York days through a cool and deep voice, then are quickly hit with the more crass and aggressive stylings of “Newness Again,” reminiscent of the raunch associated with the patches-and-leather-jackets variety.

The album follows a cycle of this kind: brooding verses delivered almost as poetry over jarring bass and guitar, sophisticatedly unsophisticated yelling, and mid-tempo, mid-speed, mid-volume rock. All of this is cut with a raw edge, streaming with an agitation and tenseness as if bled from the same exposed nerve.

This aspect seems well-known by Deaf Wish, and at times it exposes itself too clearly. Portions of the recordings, such as “Eyes Closed,” seem intentionally low-quality as if to more accurately emulate punk’s past, and title track “Pain” ruminates on the subject of its name in a way that borders on hackneyed. These flaws, however, are forgettable, and easily tuned out over the blistering rhythms and pure noise Pain produces.

Somehow, Deaf Wish manages to take a set of chronologically incohesive sounds and unite them under an emotional energy. Pain is sharp even in its moments of mellowness, and surprises with unsuspecting discordance in its smoothest melodies. Though punk varies widely in its history and style, Deaf Wish manages to touch upon varying regions of it in a way that doesn’t seem like a stretch. Meanwhile, it doesn’t just feel like a copy, either. Pain is an expression of punk nervousness with an original, poetic and artistic clarity.

Track List:

  1. The Whip
  2. Newness Again
  3. They Know
  4. Sunset’s Fool
  5. Eyes Closed
  6. Pain
  7. Sex Witch
  8. On
  9. Dead Air
  10. Calypso
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

71 / 100
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