It starts, as all proper rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and garage records should, with the riff from ‘Louie Louie’, a four chord figure once so ubiquitous that in their early press releases Nirvana would specifically state that they’d never, ever play it, just to be contrary (which is a bit rich when you consider their biggest hit.) The DNA of modern rock, of punk and soul, of all teen music is spliced into those four chords and that beat to the point that they’ve become an instant shortcut to a knee-trembling, foot tapping dance floor thrill. Waves of Fury don’t actually play ‘Louie Louie’ at any point on this record, but that chord progression weaves in and out of their debut from opener ‘Death of a Vampire’ right through to climax-cum-highlight ‘Viodrene’: it’s in their bones, and so is R&B. From the ground up Waves of Fury are a proper, brilliant old fashioned garage band.
With the reactivation of the Rolling Stones it’s appropriate that so many acts are harking back half a century to that bands earliest incarnation. Between this lot, the burgeoning popularity of the Jim Jones Review and London Socialist herberts Thee Faction, there’s definitely a taste for dirt-ball garage bands coming back into favour and WoF are the garagiest of the lot, their take sounds the most sincere. Thirst is all scuzzy guitars, rattly drums and vocals buried in the mix, in that respect much like Canada’s excellent METZ. But while that band embrace their noise-punk side, Waves of Fury bung gloriously hooky horn parts on nearly everything, boxing their tunes into ever sharper pop shapes.
The songs are pretty much all great, mostly coming in at under three and a half minutes with decent chorus and a knack for foot-twitching dancefloor-worthy beats, but the songs aren’t the real star here. It’s not the band themselves either, though everyone does a good job- singer Carter Sharp worthy of special mention for his Jagger-meets-Bobby-Gillespie howl and enjoyable tendency to go “WOAH!” at any suitable opening. The real star is the sound. Rarely are form and message so perfectly knit- these songs need to sound like this. Recorded in PJ Harvey’s Somerset studio, Thirst has clearly got Phil Spector's Wall of Sound firmly in its sights, but this isn’t just pushing-the-needle-to-the-red-Spector-Sound. The genius behind ‘Be My Baby’ is now a convicted murderer and that's added something darker, more bloodthirsty into the wall of sound he pioneeredm, the result is an urgent, impossible to ignore rock record that packs a real sonic wallop.
Although at times Thirst does a very good impression of perfect throwaway pop, it is just an impression. There’s plenty of imperfections here - a lack of variety is the main culprit, followed closely by a lyrical debt to the works of Edgar Allen Poe which makes it either delightfully quirky or actually a bit sixth form. You forgive them that though- good garagey rock n’roll is imperfect - the best R&B is stitched-together imperfections, open source riffs and amphetamine. It’s there to keep the dance floor going, to be a cheap and dirty thrill. In the end Waves of Fury’s debut is much like hooking up with someone in a nightclub toilet - it’s fast, thrilling, a bit awkward, a bit messy and at the end you smooth down your ruffled hair, check your reflection and go back to dancing to ‘Louis Louis’. Great stuff.
7Marc Burrows's Score