By Gareth Watkins
Listening to Pain will make you appreciate how much a front-person anchors a band. Each member of Deaf Wish gets a turn behind the microphone, resulting in an album that sounds at times more like a compilation than a cohesive statement. As compilations go though, this is up there with the first mix-tape your ex gave you.
The band’s sound lies squarely in the nastier side of punk: from The Stooges through to Sonic Youth (the tracks “Sex Witch” and “On” are pure Kim and Thurston respectively), The Birthday Party and The Fall. It’s all very ‘Grown Up:’ no cheap hooks, no easy grab at the listener’s attention. Yes, it’s accomplished and mature, but it can come off as po-faced and self-serious, even a little staid. Everything here works and nothing stands out as an obvious misstep, but without the ugliness and weirdness of the bands that inspired it, Deaf Wish ultimately ends up sounding safe.
Perhaps the multiple vocalists mean that there is no Mark E. Smith or Nick Cave to propel the band forward with their own personal idiosyncrasies and charisma. Music like this needs to be weird and Scientology aside, groups of people are rarely that weird. Deaf Wish, hold a rock-paper-scissors tournament to decide who gets to be front-person and try again.Deaf Wish, Pain