Deaf Wish - Pain (Cover Artwork)

Deaf Wish

Pain (2015)

Sub Pop

Deaf Wish are a group of musicians in Australia who seem to pass the microphone to whomever is willing to hold it. Pain sees the band utilizing their varied vocal stylings in the most democratic way, choosing whatever vocalist matches the song's slanted hiss the best. Over the course of the album's 30 minutes, they sound like Sonic Youth, The Stooges, The Dead C, early Replacements, and The Germs. The band doesn't exactly establish much of an identity, but they sure show how sonically flexible they can be.

While Deaf Wish can offer a vocal coo, stern scream, or a languid monotone, their music is always loud. The guitars reference Ranaldo/Moore atonal feedback manipulation as well as Ron Asheton's pummeling strut. "Eyes Closed" even has some moments that recall free jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock's noisier moments. The main connection between these songs are the stabbing thrum of the guitar and bass, which are always aided by driving drum beats.

Penultimate track "Dead Air" finds the Deaf Wish stretching out a bit, indulging themselves in their noisier side. The band slowly build a desert of screeching clatter and dynamite hiss. It's the sound of one of Deaf Wish's songs falling apart and dissolving into a cacophonous mess. It's a welcome respite in a record that can lean a little too hard on the Sonic Youth-isms, but after a point it mostly seems like a gauntlet you have to make it through in order to reach the album's excellent (and comparatively calm) closer, "Calypso."

Pain feels like the work of a band who revel in the fact that they can make their instruments buzz and throttle. But beneath the ramble and whirr is a keen chemistry shared by the bandmates and developed over the course of their eight years together. This album should have you eager to hear Deaf Wish's next noisy wreck.