Before we start, I am desperate to visit the toilet…just so you know.
Some reviews seemingly write themselves, the words effortlessly drizzle onto my keyboard like the first droplets of an April shower. Other days, I’m blocked so badly that only a severe dose of Senokot will extricate the creative juices locked within. The reasons for my productive sterility can be numerous but essentially fall into two categories; either I have other, more pressing concerns or I’m just bloody bored. Today it’s the latter and Deaf Wish are the root cause of my infertility.
Lithium Zion is the band’s fifth album of antipodean angst set amidst a Melbourne maelstrom and I will level with you immediately, I’m bored. Worse than bored, I’m disappointed given my predilection for shouty dissatisfaction and tightly coiled frustration but after several listens I’m none the wiser. Reviews for Lithium Zion have been largely favourable elsewhere so either I’m missing something or perhaps, just perhaps we are entering the realms of the hipster-punk who favours anti-style ahead of anti-substance.
Perhaps the world has been round the spin cycle of weary Sonic Youth thrash once too often and needs an injection of Passion Fruit Lenor to come up smelling of something new and enticing instead of the stench of a 15 year olds bedroom. The elements are all here for success, the weighty chug-chug-chug of the bass melded with guitars wailing to be let free before smashing into a disaffected vocal and yet…nothing quite sticks, the tracks fail to ignite. However, it’s not all bad ‘Ox’ is a mumblecore anthem with a desperation to reach the end at record pace which could be repeated in a thousand student bedsits up and down the state of Victoria and beyond. Similarly, ‘Hitachi Jackhammer’ is not only a great name for a track but it wrecks havoc with my ears before the album descends into a plodding, matter-of-fact mish-mash with too much emphasis on the mash.
Only during ‘The Rat Is Back’ do Deaf Wish demonstrate their undoubted ability to offer up something more cerebral as they ease off the accelerator and drawl their way to an unnerving and ultimately rewarding four minutes which is in sharp contrast to the aural chaos throughout the rest of the album. The final track ‘Smoke’ appears to last forever, apparently it’s only 6 minutes long but I felt like I had been on a camping holiday in the Brecon Becons by the time it had reached its denouement.
Deaf Wish may well have something profound to tell the world but I am struggling to understand their relevance in the hot, sticky mess of 2018. I’ve tried everything to get on board with Lithium Zion, I’ve listened on the bus, in a quiet country field, next to a wall being demolished (possibly with a Hitachi Jackhammer) and now I am sat in agony, crossed-legged in dire need of the facilities in the hope that such desperation triggers something in my brain. It hasn’t, I remain wholly underwhelmed and saddened by the experience.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pay a visit…
Lithium Zion is out now on Sub Pop