It seems odd that the four-piece Wax Idols reside in Oakland, California. Especially considering the fact that the band’s sophomore LP Discipline & Desire embodies a dark, full, twisted sound: something that feels more appropriate to the foggy, damp British climate than that of sunny California. But that’s Wax Idols — zigging where other might zag, and always going their own way.
Compared to Wax Idols’ debut LP No Future (a raw, hook-heavy punk effort written and recorded primarily by Fortune in 2010/2011 and released on Chicago’s Hozac Records), Discipline & Desire is more a group effort as the band — Jen Mundy (rhythm guitar/vocals), Amy Rosenoff (bass) and Keven Tecon (drums) — contributed to the recording and writing process. Fortune dedicated herself to this record for over a year and the band were right there with her, playing with pattern, melody and stretching themselves beyond the comfort of unassuming hooks and into a darker, new wave territory. Discipline & Desire was produced and engineered by Monte Vallier (of Half Church and Swell) and co-produced by Fortune. Mark Burgess (of the British outfit The Chameleons) worked alongside Wax Idols & Vallier as an extra pair of ears and even played bass on the album closer “Stay In.” Together they’ve crafted an album that’s sleek and focused without being slick, and dark and intense without being at all humorless.
Discipline & Desire builds on Fortune’s debut full length effort in almost every way, rounding out as a far more complete record. The melodies are stronger, the vocals echoed and haunting, and the playing is at an unflagging level of intensity. First single “Sound of a Void” is a storming, full-throated late night anthem, while “Dethrone” and “When It Happens” shimmer and throb, perfect examples of Wax Idols’ unique take on pop. Slower numbers like “Scent Of Love” and “Elegua” mesmerize and entrance, and the feedback-laced “AD RE:IAN” is nothing short of a masterpiece, punctuated by bursts of special guest Kristin Dylan Edrich’s noise viola. Album closer “Stay In” wraps the up the album perfectly — a mid-tempo melodic gem with a killer bassline and an uncanny balance of melody and atmosphere.
This is an inventive, brilliant record which solidifies the fact that Fortune is one of the best songwriters hiding in the shadows of the other California, where the sun doesn’t always shine. But, judging by this fantastic album, she and her Wax Idols won’t be hiding for long.
Tracklist: Stare Back / Sound Of A Void / When It Happens / Formulae / Scent Of Love / Dethrone / AD RE:IAN / Cartoonist / Elegua / Stay In
Slumberland Records SLR184