A few days ago, the world watched as celebrities, athletes, and public figures donned designer duds and paraded around in the name of “punk.” While I applaud any attempt at mixing high fashion with such a pivotal musical movement, this year’s Vogue-sponsored Met Gala’s “Punk: Chaos to Couture” theme couldn’t help but feel silly, like little girls dressing up in mommy’s clothes.
Is there anything left of punk when Oscar winners and socialites alike are smearing black eyeliner on their lids and drinking champagne in dresses that cost roughly more than most people will make in a year? Asked what their favorite punk rock songs were, many responded with a resounding thud, “I don’t know.”
Then there are bands like Wax Idols, which still succeed at injecting shreds of authenticity into the all-too “static world” we all inhabit. The California quartet’s solid sophomore effort, Discipline + Desire, attempts to expose the truly seedy underbelly of society, as well as provide a re-introduction to punk in its purest, rarest form.
Courtesy of powerful frontwoman Hether Fortune, there are shades of bygone female punk idols on Discipline + Desire, from Patti Smith to Siouxsie Sioux to Joan Jett; in other words, women who would have never set foot on the carpeted steps of the Met Museum. While Britain’s all-girl Savages have received plenty of press on this side of the pond, it seems only fitting that Wax Idols also share the the spotlight. Both bands represent a return to the true punk rock experience; where Savages inform their fans to give into silence, Wax Idols offer the battle cry, “let’s turn down this static world.”
On Discipline + Desire, Wax Idols craft smooth, fluid tracks drenched in fuzz, evoking a hazy U.K. goth influence reminiscent of the Cure, or any number of Manchester post-punk acts. Whenever things start to seem too heavy, the band infuse a lighter pop sound, like the melodic guitars and “ahhhs” of “When It Happens.” When Fortune sings, “I was dancing alone at the edge of the world,” it’s clear the track could have been just as much a hit in 1983 as 2013.
Whether or not punk can exist within the glitzy technological confines of the twenty-first century remains to be seen, but as long as bands like Wax Idols exist, its legacy remains. Even if just for a moment, Discipline + Desire is an album worth turning down our worlds for.
3.5 / 5 bars