Literalism reigns with Melbourne, Australia’s Deaf Wish: “The Whip,” the opening song on the band’s debut full-length for Sub Pop, is a repetitive sonic assault; “Sex Witch” is decidedly witchy; “Pain,” the album’s title track, is brutal, primal. Even the band’s name seems to have been chosen less for its pun and more as an accurate descriptor of its sound: a collage of noisy indie-rock influences mashed together and designed to be played at maximum volume.
Deaf Wish’s members have admitted to starting the band with a “let’s not make anything that’s going to last” philosophy but, eight years later, Pain sounds like an album with some staying power. With all four band members contributing vocals, the songs veer wildly between styles, at varying points reaching melodic and chaotic extremes. A song like the sprawling, harshly dissonant “Dead Air” is immediately followed by album closer “Calypso,” a moody, jangly highlight. While at times this risks leaving the listener imbalanced, the cumulative effect is an engaging sort of hazy dizziness, one that’s worth getting lost in. (Sub Pop)