The New York Buzz band cycle is a process that now seems like an annual event. It is one that has spawned some of the most influential artists of recent decades, if not the entirety of popular music, as well as many who have disappeared into obscurity. A somewhat cynical process that rapidly accelerates an artist’s career through levels of reputation and attention that otherwise take years of development, only to then present them with the harsh backlash of criticisms that go alongside success while still in their infancy.
Current candidates for the title WALL have found a novel way to deal with the issue, they broke up several months before the release of their debut album. The quartet formed of Sam York, Elizabeth Skadden, Vince McClelland and Vanessa Gomez released their debut full length Untitled last month via Wharf Cat records, a smartly simple 29 minutes of lo-fi energy covering more socially relevant issues than most band cover in a career.
Untitled combines the raw sounds of no wave, post punk and hardcore alike, with similarities to pre-Rollins Black Flag, Bikini Kill and early Sonic Youth. Covering intelligent and dark content in single narrate songs, York supplies smart lyrics with straight to the point delivery, covering heavy topics both socially politic and personal, such as suicide, sexism, war and social relevance.
‘Wounded at War’ points a blatant finger at America and the western world’s glorification of the military “Make war glitzy, make war glam. Something simple we understand” disguising the psychological impact on those involved. Where songs such as ‘High Rating’ and ‘(Sacred) Circus’ comment on the anxieties of modern society particularly in (forgive me for using this word) millennials, topics such as the constant craving of validations, social status “competition, self promotion we’re all guilty, it’s never enough” and Jealousy.
Untitled does bear a stylistic but more abrasive sound to previous buzz-band title holders Parquet Courts, however this is no surprise as co-lead man Austin Brown took to recording duties on the album as well as the bands early E.P, however their choice of production is more one of relevance than imitation.
Many bands come and go without ever making an impression, and obviously some break through to contest with the constant struggle of remaining relevant, but it takes something special to leave an audience searching for more when you’ve already moved on. Untitled isn’t just a great album, it’s a great ‘Fuck You’ to a cynical music industry still clinging on to whatever standardisations and pre-approved processes that it can. Who knows, maybe we will be in for a reunion tour.