The WANTS – ” Fear My Society ” Albums Of 2020

Posted: April 5, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The album artwork for ‘Container’ displays cans of tinned food – stockpiling chic, if you will – while portentous song titles such as ‘Fear My Society’ and ‘Clearly A Crisis’ could hardly chime more with the doomy current climate.

Comprised of two members of New York art-punks Bodega Madison Velding-VanDam and bassist Heather Elle and completed by drummer Jason Gates, the confident self-produced debut from is riven with taut anxiety and a sense of looming dread.

Madison Velding-VanDam is one busy guy. If he’s not developing and producing the music of Brooklyn art-punkers Bodega, he is racking his brains for the right words as the primary songwriter of The Wants, his buzzy side project. Oh, and if that doesn’t sound like much, Velding-VanDam also switches between lead guitar and bass for both bands, churning out watertight, propulsive riffs while he’s at it.

Madison’s schedule might be busy, but he can’t get enough of the thrill of it. Working double duty for both Bodega and The Wants has provided him with a new creative gateway into arranging and playing guitar with different visions for each respective band. This method has paid off, too; The Wants’ forthcoming debut record, Container, is a bolshy, turbulent 30-minute trip through the darker complexities of American society. It is a whip-smart, forward-thinking body of work and essentially a product of his calculated collaborative process.

Yet it’s also a collection of razor-sharp pop songs that gleam through the gloom. They mine the sinuous basslines and euphoric bleakness of post-punk outfits such as Gang Of Four (with Velding-Van-Dam’s lyrics seemingly similarly preoccupied with stripping away the lies of capitalist and consumerist culture) and the dancefloor nous of bands from their home city (think LCD Soundsystem. So while ‘Clearly A Crisis’ apes Andy Gill’s distinctive, serrated slashes of guitar, the title track ‘Container’ takes us back to the early noughties when Mattie Safer first picked up a cowbell and James Murphy fretted about losing his edge.

The brooding Depeche Mode style existential goth-pop of ‘Fear My Society’ dealing with the post-crash economic fallout of a man pondering his place in the world – proves that Velding-VanDam is worthy of wearing the Dave Gahan-style leather chaps he regularly sports onstage. ‘Ape Trap’ and ‘Hydra’ could be cuts from Interpol totemic first record ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ , and – inspired by the soundtrack to David Lynch’s cult movie ‘Lost Highway’  ‘The Motor’ is a frantic, pulsating rave-up. The fallout shelter funk of ‘Nuclear Party’ locks into a lolloping Talking Heads groove, with Velding-VanDam sardonically deadpanning lyrics like: Kiss my bombs and I’ll kiss your bones.

Interspersed throughout are dark, ambient instrumentals ‘Machine Room’, ‘Aluminum’, ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Voltage’. This adds an extra layer of claustrophobia and menace, but also feels like the band are padding out a very good eight-track album into 12 songs.

Still that’s a minor quibble – as ‘Container’ is a masterful statement of intent, The Motor, Container, and Ape Trap are three tracks fromContainer that signal our path forward. These best reflect our effort to mix our influences of dance, post-punk, and pop genres we’re drawn to in exciting ways. I can see us making even more danceable and vocal melody heavy music.

I don’t feel finished engaging with the lyrical and visual themes of this record, either. The dark heart of America and the complexities of my country’s iconography still keep me searching for answers.

Container is out now on Council Records.

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