Rock

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - An­drew McMillen

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.

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