Witching Waves at AllMusic

Witching Waves‘ first album, 2014’s Fear of Falling Down, was built around sprightly, noisy indie pop like that which the Vaselines used to play in the late ’80s. It was a good sound for the London trio, showing off their bouncy male/female vocals and youthful enthusiasm. A couple years later and they sound all grown up and tougher. Their second record, Crystal Cafe, is a heavy, pounding beast of a record. Emma Wigham sounds like she’s hitting her drums and cymbals with every last ounce of power in her body, Mark Jasper‘s guitars slice and tear at the air like angry animals, and the duo’s vocals have a nasty bite that wasn’t on the surface before. This kind of raging indie rock is also a good look for them. Listening to the album from beginning to end is like being pummeled by a very persistent street fighter; each song is like a blow to the head or a sock in the gut. The pain is tempered by very hooky choruses and the occasional track that lays off just enough so some oxygen can return to the lungs; a few even sound like twisted pop songs instead of songs that are trying to twist the listener’s head off. “Make It Up” has an almost polite beat and a singsong vocal part that’s hard to resist, and the album-ending “Flowers” dials the aggression way back in favor of an ominous hum that threatens violence but never delivers anything except a nice moody pop song. Despite these diversions — and a couple of short, arty instrumentals — the album thrives on the loud-to-the-point-of-feedback guitars, their burning energy, and the brute strength of the songs and sound. It’s been done before by loads of bands, butWitching Waves make a noise that feels fresh and not like a boring retread. Whatever made them mad and inspired them to crank up the guitars and passion, hopefully they bottled it for use on the next couple albums as well.