Deliverance Witch Hats Behind the Beat
For a band whose debut album was so strong, it is remarkable how much Melbourne quartet Witch Hats has improved since 2008’s Cellulite Soul. Its second release, 2011’s Pleasure Syndrome, exhibited a profound leap in songwriting smarts, and the same can be said for Deliverance, a short but powerful set. While Pleasure Syndrome’s lead single, Hear Martin, was built around a creepy keyboard line, here the band returns to its primal roots of distorted guitar tones, Kris Buscombe’s scowling vocals and dark subject matter: radicalisation, surveillance, peeping toms, “force feeding the underfed” and “sisterly defenestration”. On Religious Sickness, Buscombe sticks to a lower register, while pretty guitar melodies and compact basslines supplied by the frontman’s brother, Ash, dominate the mix. Through all eight tracks, Matt Cox’s uncomplicated but effective percussion drives these compelling tales of pain and woe: witness first track Weekend Holocauster, whose drum pattern barely changes across four minutes, yet never grows tired. Often, it is songwriting preferences such as these — simplicity over complexity — that make the band’s music so engaging. It is the sound of a group comfortable with its abilities. This might be born of the fact that the quartet has lasted for years and improved in every way, despite the fact that very few people have heard of Witch Hats. When reviewing Pleasure Syndrome on this page in 2011, I wrote that the adjectives underrated and underground should no longer apply to this band. Five years later, with an even stronger third album, here are eight more reasons why that’s still the case.