[sic] Magazine

Deaf Wish – Pain

Though Deaf Wish’s new LP, Pain, their first on Sub Pop, plays out like the sweetest of punk-rock mix-tapes, there are no prizes for guessing the Aussie four-piece’s biggest heroes. No matter the games, the band honour a rolling list of the great and the good via their ten-track mish-mash of guitar karaoke, coming at their dazzling fourth album from three distinct perspectives, everyone but the drummer taking a turn on the mic.

Guitarist Jensen Tjhung’s contributions come straight from the Thurston Moore anti-pop handbook, so too his simmering fretwork as heard on a track like “On”. Second guitarist Sarah Hardiman is very much the Kim in this deal, her breathy disinterest perfect for dialled-back alt-rockers such as “Sex Witch”, the proto-punk strut in the sub-100 second “They Know” alternatively given balance with her sultry melodies. Bassist Nick Pratt, on the other hand, fronts Pain’s snotty grot-rockers, the title track with its ear-shredding blowback and the strangled solos of the speeding “Newness Again” included.

Often Pain is noise-rock with dual emphasis. When it rocks (see the dirty grooves and fizzing feedback of the album’s longest – and least vocally decorated – statement “Dead Air”), it truly rocks. Neither is the noise forgotten. “Eyes Closed”, for example, reels from speaker-blown HC to a background built on righteous guitar torture, while opener, “The Whip”, creeps from a bare-bones garage-punk rattle to a deafening blowout.

Like the best of artists there’s brain to the brawn though and Pain closes on “Calypso” with its neurons firing brightly. Deftly woven into an angular racket that owes its existence more to NYC than it does downtown Melbourne, a pretty guitar line dances out of the shadows as a tender, near-spoken word adds drawled melody that just for a moment sounds like poetry: “sometimes my life turns to noise.” When life gives you lemons you do could far worse than concentrate them into an album like Pain.

Best track: “Calypso”

~Pain is released August 7th 2015 via Sub Pop.~