Wall - 'Wall EP' Review
A storming debut from the New York quartet
In the ’80s, New York was the heart of the post-punk and no wave universe, brimming with bands from the acclaimed (Talking Heads, Suicide) to the cult heroes (Rosa Yemen, Mars). Three decades on, the city’s latest new hope WALL are tipping their hats to that scene via the four jagged, exhilarating tracks that make up their self-titled debut EP.
Like those that went before them, WALL’s music is, in places, infiltrated by a wry humour, even if frontwoman Sam York’s sometimes severe tones don’t make it immediately obvious. ‘Cuban Cigars’ is a brutal takedown of NYC’s suits who “think they’re safe from the mob/Cos they think they are the mob”, with York sneering at several points “fresh baked bread keeps the pigs well fed”. Closing track ‘Milk’ is slightly more fantastical than funny, York depicting “two thousand feline mistresses, laying all over the cobblestones” under a sky that “opened up, milk poured out”, but no less compelling.
The quartet are also sharply clever. On ‘Fit The Part’, York sings of all the different roles she undertakes in life (“Shedding layers as I race to the next task/Looking in the mirror to the face of a stranger”), bending and altering herself to “fit the part to get the part”. It’s an astute comment on how we emphasis or hide different facets of ourselves to get ahead in life – an ode to the concept of survival of the fittest made all the more urgent by Vince McClelland’s increasingly ragged guitar and Vanessa Gomez’s determined drumming.
York’s lyrics and delivery, which veers from barked to nonchalantly drawled, breathlessly gabbled to gleefully mocking, aren’t the only part of WALL’s handiwork that haul you up and make you pay attention though. McClelland, Gomez and bassist Elizabeth Skadden’s wiry, tough reinforcement is just as intoxicating. On ‘Cuban Cigars’, elastic guitar lines bend and snap in and out of place, strutting like the lyrics’ wannabe gangsters.
‘Last Date’ jolts from grazed snatches of sound to constant, shrill notes tumbling ever swiftly towards the end, Gomez and Skadden keeping things just teetering on the edge of collapse, but stopping just short of succumbing and hurtling headfirst into it. WALL’s hooks and melodies – as well as their stories – are ones to to burrow deep into; barbed rumblings to keep you on your toes, your heart pounding and your brain racing. Give into them now.
Record label: Wharf Cat Records
Release date: 15 Jan, 2016