This Wax Idols article was written by Ramona Rose. Edited by Sam Forsdick
Wax Idols have returned with their third album ‘American Tragic,’ a nine-track post-punk whirlwind of emotional turmoil with a refreshingly high level of accessibility, which presents a softer approach to new-wave.
Apart from dedicated aficionados, the term ‘new-wave’ tends to make people switch off a little, which is why albums like this one are so good at making people sit up and take notice. Moody vocals drenched in reverb are married with surprisingly catchy pop hooks to create an arresting contrast, but not one struck at the expense of authenticity.
Tracks like ‘At Any Moment’ swoop in with chart-worthy guitar parts, but still bearing the message of heartbreak at the very core of the album and upholding the values of the genre. Older audiences are still indulged in the retro-gothic signature of front-woman Hether Fortune, whilst new audiences are able to discover a new genre without submitting themselves to an onslaught of a sound they’re not fully equipped to engage with.
More than anything, this album is about pain, and it shows. In places, it is sonically reminiscent of their 2013 venture ‘Discipline & Desire’ but it feels as though the walls have been knocked down ever so slightly to create a far more human experience for the listener. Stories of abandonment are shrouded in gothic aestheticism with lyrics that delve into the concept of heartbreak and personal despair on a highly compassionate level.
Moments like the chorus of ‘I’m Not Going’ are particularly poignant, the misery almost tangible as Fortune spits the words “I said no, I’m not going down” over a gut-wrenching cry from the backing vocals. For certain, this album feels almost claustrophobic in its proximity to Fortune and her life. Other than drummer Rachel Travers and co-producer Monte Vallier, nobody else had a hand in the construction of the album other than Fortune herself, allowing the listener to really press their nose up against the glass and peer in at the inner workers of her mind.
There’s something rather cathartic about this record as a whole. It revels unapologetically in its own anguish, leaving the listener feeling the way they would after a good long cry. Fortune places deep emotion into a context that makes absolute sense and in an incredibly personal fashion, creating something that feels wholly universal.
‘American Tragic’ is available now via Collect Records.