Talking at a Wall
There are some bands who you can just tell only reach their peak when they’re playing live. In a sea of bored, hip sounding post punk bands, being able to hook an audience live is one of the few ways that a band can make themselves stand out…but it helps if they can back that up in their studio recordings. This seems to be the balancing act that New York newcomers WALL have found themselves trying to do. While their live performances have earned enthusiastic reviews, praising their unique vibe and refreshing energy, their self-titled debut WALL EP conveys none of that. In fact, if someone flipped this brief 4-song long record on in the middle of any handful of other post punk bands trying to make a name for themselves in 2016, you may not even realize you’re listening to another band.
But hell, that’s fine for a debut. Drinking from the well of bands like Wire and an endless stream of flippant, exhausted sounding artists who describe themselves as “no wave,” WALL’s sound is neither unexpected nor unwarranted in the post punk scene. From the lazy but catchy opening track “Cuban Cigars,” it’s clear that no one is reinventing the wheel here, but clever lyrics and the undeniable impression that you’d probably be up on your feet dancing if you heard this at a show help redeem this EP in the mind of even the most jaded post punk fan. With so few songs, the downfall of many an EP from a relative unknown, it’s hard to see for sure where WALL’s strengths lie but the faster, more aggressive tone of “Fit the Part” suits the band well and bodes well for them both as a live band and in their potential future tracks.
Though it is brief and will likely not blow anyone entirely out of their seats, WALL’s first step out of the gate with WALL EP is a promising one. Hazy lo-fi post punk with an edge of “who gives a heck” is a popular sound right now and WALL is smart to try and get in while it’s still hot. And though that day, remarkably, has yet to come…there will be a point where there are too many bands that sound exactly the same that it’s going to stop being punk and starting being really just plain boring.