Aussie underground noise rockers Deaf Wish have been crashing out discordant angst for eight years, but their signing to the iconic US label Sub Pop gives them a chance to really flex their cranky, experimental, brutalist might on new album Pain.
More expansive than on 2014’s St Vincent’s EP, the Melbourne four-piece are less restricted by lo-fi, DIY limitations and freed to rev-out wired, manic velocity and snarling indifference. It’s one unholy sprawl of scowling Sonic Youth art-thrash that feels like a therapeutic purge of every minute frustration they’ve ever held through their lives.
The title track is particularly cathartic and primal in its fits of combusting fury – “PAIN!!! / What’s inside? / Count the digits / Watch me cry”. You can feel the eyes bulging out of his head and veins straining as frontman Jensen Tjhung delivers this throat lacerating sermon whilst beefy Stooges riffs thunder away.
Elsewhere "Sunset Fool" is a detuned surf pop nugget that gets lost in grungey, slacker melodies and hazy, downbeat dreams and could be Pissed Jeans covering The Lemonheads. Closing track "Calypso" also momentarily dampens down the visceral rage in favour of jangly, scuszzy, Velvets-cool and "Dead Air" descends into an epic six and half minute storm of black-hearted prog dissonance full of skull drilling feedback and manic guitar drone.
The shared vocals between Tjhung and Sarah Hardiman and the constant shifting dynamics and mood swings creates a schizophrenic edge, with the multi-personalities squabbling to be heard amongst the air of tense, claustrophobic friction. At times it makes the album feel like a compilation of great lost No Wave acts, but when it all clicks together like on the blistering, agit-hardcore blast "They Know", Deaf Wish are a mighty force.