ALBUM: Witching Waves – ‘Persistence’

Founded just over five years ago by Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper, Witching Waves are a DIY post-punk trio hailing from London. Sharing the name of an amusement ride from Coney Island, New York (and later Blackpool, England) Witching Waves is as raw as its namesake; a juxtaposition of metallic melodies and propulsive rhythm.

Having released their debut LP, 2014’s Fear of Falling Down, and 2016’s Crystal Cafe, on the now-defunct Soft Power Records, Witching Waves are now set to release their third album. Joining Wigham’s infectious drumming and Jasper’s angular riffing is Estella Adeyeri on bass guitar. Adeyeri’s addition to the band in 2016, in addition to a relentless touring schedule, sparked the creative energy that culminated into their most confident record, Persistence.

Writing for Persistence started in 2016, with the music recorded over two days in 2017, and mixing done in 2018; hence the name of the album. With their debut, Witching Waves were simply experimenting; Wigham was learning how to play the drums at the time, in the studio, and in front of a live audience. Songs were often recorded not long after they were written. But on Persistence, Witching Waves have taken their time – preforming new songs live, laying the foundations for the LP – resulting in a much more focused release.

This is not to say that Persistence is a more polished record. Recorded live directly to tape within Jasper’s Hackney warehouse studio, Sound Savers, Witching Waves have lost none of their DIY ethics; as is evident from the opening track, ‘Disintegration’. The band recorded the album on their own – with minimal help with the mixes – resulting in much welcome distortion. Without being able to monitor the levels on the tapes, Jasper’s guitar frequently went into the red and Persistence is all the better for it! ‘Disintegration’ is a great example of how these live takes make the record sound so authentic.

Next, Wigham goes full throttle on ‘Best of Me’ – the latest single to be released. Crashing against the drums with ferocity, Wigham displays a sense of discomfort with lyrics that touch upon self-worth and identity. “I can’t move on / I can’t go back / You’ve got the best of me.” The tension throughout is inescapable, but it is the frantic raw energy of ‘Eye 2 Eye’ – a self-described ode to conflict” – that displays the maturity of a band pissed off. Wigham and Jasper trade vocals that demand your attention amongst scratchy guitar riffing, pulsating bass lines, and clashing cymbals: “When did we decide to talk about it? / How do we begin to talk about it?”

 

Persistence continues to see Witching Waves channel their internal tensions regarding relationships and society into each unapologetic track. An obvious example would be ‘Money’, a song focused on the English capital that is becoming increasingly unaffordable for its many residents. The band’s honesty and emotion is admirable, with each member revealing themselves to the world; their frustrations and discomforts captured on this very personal record.

With Persistence, Witching Waves have produced a brash, complex, and dark post-punk record with pop sensibilities that documents an authentic, ongoing struggle worthy of repeat listening.

Persistence, the upcoming album from Witching Waves, is out 5th April via Specialist Subject Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

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