One tricky thing about writing an album about the personal aches and pains is a lot of people have done it. A lot of people have made great music about having a bad day, week … year. So why try and compete? Because there will still be a way that hasn’t been thought of, and as a band find their voice there will always be a different angle taken on it that might reach someone new. This is where antipodes Deaf Wish come in. Their follow up 2010’s ‘Mercy’, ‘Pain’, pulls together ten songs of battered malfunction; connecting with impulses of injury for an album delivering something wholly cathartic. Sarah Hardiman (Moon Rituals), Nick Pratt, Jensen Tjhung (Exhaustion, Lower Plenty) and Daniel Twomey (Lower Plenty) have been working together very much on their own terms for the last 8 years. As a listener it feels like being treated to a warts and all experience, watching the four-piece grow into the band, figure out what the project is and how they all fit into writing the songs. ‘Pain’ builds and expands on the last record, painting a fuller picture of what Deaf Wish is – or is not. Deaf Wish may not in fact be writing songs for people to enjoy, but perhaps offering a lifeline making a direct link with suffering and those who suffer.
Right out of the gates ‘The Whip’ induces a sense of chaos, guitars ring out and unravel alongside incanctative vocals calling out to and reeling in a mind-set of ennui to feed off, “Our sentence is illness, your youth is smoke, you live in the arc of the whip, outside, outside, striking the sound of the whip song in you”. The album is reigned in at parts for a more lamenting listen, focusing more on dejection rather than outright angst. ‘Sunsets Fool’ wanders on the periphery reflecting on things running away from one’s grasp, this downwardly introspective viewpoint is balanced by indie-pop influences on the guitar’s melodies lifting up the song. ‘Dead Air’ brings an industrial approach to the fore playing out cramping guitars apace with meteoric, lashing rhythms and gulping bass holding it all down; every last notion of frustration is teased out by the end of the song whereby this open discordance seems determined to drown out internal noise. ‘Pain’ is confrontational in the dogged way in which Deaf Wish address this collective sense of hurt, and it’s the pure and honest method that I think explains why so many people were excited for this new record. It was Sub Pop who got in touch with Deaf Wish to see if they had any new material, which resulted initially in the 7”EP ‘St. Vincent’ being released. This seemed to have lit a fire under the band and after ‘St. Vincent’ they committed to writing an album and here we are with ‘Pain’. Keeping things simple the album instantly displays the foursome’s undeniable chemistry and unswerving energy. ‘Pain’ might not be the answer to anyone’s problems, but it might make you forget about them for a little bit.