The album artwork for ‘Container’ displays cans of tinned food – stockpiling chic, if you will – while portentous song titles such as ‘Fear My Society’ and ‘Clearly A Crisis’ could hardly chime more with the doomy current climate if they arrived with vouchers for contraband hand sanitiser.
Comprised of two members of New York art-punks Bodega – Madison Velding-VanDam and bassist Heather Elle – and completed by drummer Jason Gates, the confident self-produced debut from The Wants is riven with taut anxiety and a sense of looming dread.
Yet it’s also a collection of razor-sharp pop songs that gleam through the gloom. They mine the sinuous basslines and euphoric bleakness of post-punk outfits such as Gang Of Four (with Velding-Van-Dam’s lyrics seemingly similarly preoccupied with stripping away the lies of capitalist and consumerist culture) and the dancefloor nous of bands from their home city (think LCD Soundsystem). So while ‘Clearly A Crisis’ apes Andy Gill’s distinctive, serrated slashes of guitar, the title track ‘Container’ takes us back to the early noughties when The Rapture‘s Mattie Safer first picked up a cowbell and James Murphy fretted about losing his edge.
The brooding Depeche Mode-style existential goth-pop of ‘Fear My Society’ – dealing with the post-crash economic fallout of a man pondering his place in the world – proves that Velding-VanDam is worthy of wearing the Dave Gahan-style leather chaps he regularly sports onstage. ‘Ape Trap’ and ‘Hydra’ could be cuts from Interpol‘s totemic first record ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ , and – inspired by the soundtrack to David Lynch’s cult movie ‘Lost Highway’ – ‘The Motor’ is a frantic, pulsating rave-up. If Lynch had been asked to soundtrack a PlayStation car-racing game, it might sound a little like this. The fallout shelter funk of ‘Nuclear Party’ locks into a lolloping Talking Heads groove, with Velding-VanDam sardonically deadpanning lyrics like: ‘Kiss my bombs and I’ll kiss your bones‘.
Interspersed throughout are dark, ambient instrumentals ‘Machine Room’, ‘Aluminum’, ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Voltage’. This adds an extra layer of claustrophobia and menace, but also feels like the band are padding out a very good eight-track album into 12 songs.
Still that’s a minor quibble – as ‘Container’ is a masterful statement of intent destined straight for the top of your lock-down dance party playlist.