If there was an award for ‘most appropriately named up-and-coming band of 2016’ Witching Waves would definitely a strong contender for the winner. Moody, atmospheric and haunting are the words you’re probably going to read in every review of this album in the coming few weeks. I’ve been lucky enough to have caught this band at least one around London, and so this album has been one I’ve been really looking forward to finally hearing. I’ll add that they are a real treat live, and though sounding far less fuzzy on records. Crystal Café does an incredible job of translating all that incredible vibe into a collection of tracks which really are pretty exciting.
Crystal Café leans heavily towards that dark side of post-punk, but with the sensibilities of that millennial emo. I’m sort of drawn towards pointing other listeners towards some of the lesser known side of the Factory Records collection, like Crispy Ambulance, throwing in your now standard gloomy London shoegaze influences, and goth rock. Some might think of it as a tad odd to start attaching abstract descriptions to their reviews, but it’s kind of a grey listen, but not in a depressing or dull way. More in a ‘you’re walking through a misty forest just after sunset’ sort of way. Drifting between that heavy psych, you have tracks like ‘Red Light’, which balance out the more vicious aggression of ‘Pitiless’, and the endless harmonic droning vocals that evokes a sort of ironic boredom and cynicism towards its subject. I’m not sure they’re really covering any new territory per se, but they are exploring it in a way that’s enjoyable to listen to, and cherry picking tones that are only just starting to come into fashion at the moment.
Perhaps the most notably are its brilliant instrumental tracks. I’d call them interludes, but they are too long to really be phrased as thus. It’s not often that a less established band throw in purely instrumental tracks on a debut… unless that’s sort of their thing because they are an experimental electronic prog outfit or something (I’m making this up, but I’m sure it exists). In light of ‘recent events’ aka the lost of David Bowie, it feels appropriate to say that it certainly give it that sort of Berlin Era feel. In fact rather than just feed the listener with mindless experiments, they serve as a taster for the rest if the album, a series of repeated motifs to linger in the mind. Honestly, there’s not enough of it in modern music, and if that’s what 2016 is going to bring us, or more importantly, if that’s what Witching Waves are going to bring us, I am very happy to have heard this album and praise it early on.
Crystal Café out on the 26th of February on Soft Power (UK) and Happy Happy Birthday To Me (US).