WAX WAV “EP1” / November 2017
RIYL: Japandroids, Cheap Trick, Against Me, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The first thing you notice when visiting Wax Wav’s Bandcamp, host to their fantastic debut EP (aptly titled EP1), isn’t a band photo or an album cover. It’s the header image, which is an appropriately-timed aerial shot of a large group of protestors, donning signs with phrases like “Humanity First” and “The Whole World Is Watching.” This imagery doesn’t immediately connect with the music until track 2 and album highlight, “Generation Gap.” Not only does the band sound eerily like Against Me here, but the sentiment is spot on as well, with lyrics like “Normalized white riots, as if we ever had mass appeal / Got a history, want a clean slate, under pressure, got a lot on our plate” and “You were strong and you were feminine, you were shining bright / And we smiled so smug when you ripped that sign off the pole.” It’s a good indicator that these four gentlemen from Philadelphia have a fruitful career ahead of them, constructing a framework of insightful views and frustrations of the world around them.
Throughout this far too brief collection of songs, Wax Wav asks a lot of questions (literally). Just look at the lyrics to closing track “Empathy,” which sees the subject of the song contemplating his/her overall role in this ever-changing American atmosphere. With questions like “Am I retreating inward? Am I under siege? Am I American values or am I overseas?” being shouted at you over the driving, melodic instrumentals, one can’t help but ask themselves the same questions. It’s the end of the song that offers a painful, albeit dead honest, glimpse into today’s society, and one that sums up the record perfectly. “Empathy is lacking in our conversation / I know you got it on the tip of your tongue / Empathy is lacking in our larger dialogue / Everyone is looking out for number one,” frontman Nick Palmer sings. He believes we, including himself, can do better. He believes even more strongly that we NEED to do better.
The aggressive urgency of side A mixed with the more melodic nature of side B combine to form an impressive collection of songs that act as a building block for a young band ready to cut through the static. My only hope is that they start building on it sooner rather than later, as it’s going to be difficult not to wear these four songs out in the coming months.
Editor’s note: See WAX WAV at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly on Dec. 15.