With their knowing, self-deprecating band name and edgy, cool image, Wax Idols would seem to be the perfect poster band for post-punk, eighties-tinged goth rock (and we all need one of those, right?) An all-female outfit hailing from San Francisco, Discipline and Desire is their second album, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2011 debut No Future, and pretty much continues in the same attitude-heavy, confrontational and provocatively dark vein.
The album opens with Stare Back, a concoction of frenzied, fuzzy guitars, punchy drums and intermittent wailing/cackling banshee vocals, which pretty much sets the scene. Sound Of A Void follows with its catchy ghoulish guitar riffs, frontwoman Hether Fortune’s vocals commanding and dramatic throughout.
Upon first listen the album seemed a little too lo-fi and inaccessible for its own good, with its watery guitars and faux-gothic mystique, but upon repeated listens the album just gets better and better, and it dawned on me just how catchy the songs really are. Take the big anthemic chorus of Dethrone for example, hinting at more mainstream radio play.
This is an album full of drama and attitude, poison and romance. Think the Cure and Siouxsie and The Banshees with a little bit of Joan Jett thrown in. It’s all very punky and gothic-flavoured in sound and lyrics (right at the end of the album there’s a secret track about taking a boy to a graveyard and spiking his drink with cyanide. Nice.) Sonically the songs are expansive, echoey and ‘big’ in sound, spacious and yet held together by a raw energy and attitude that is woven through and through, and it’s simply infectious.
I was concerned initially that their presence in music would be as transitory as their band name would seem to suggest – wax idols – not likely to be around for very long, and like their goth contemporaries, might possibly melt if exposed to too much sunlight. But the more I listened, the more I felt I was wrong. I can’t help being charmed by this album.