Dropping the C-bomb on the second word of your debut album is quite some statement. You either have to back it up by being brilliant, or be so heavy and scary that no-one will question your outrageous lyrical choices.
Thankfully, Ipswich’s War Waves fall into the former category – and their self-titled debut album is a masterful representation of this. It’s a powerful album with superb lyrics that would push the emotions of even the most stone-hearted of us.
War Waves sound like a much more upbeat, more enjoyable version of The Smiths fused with the cultural reflection of bands like Idlewild and Frightened Rabbit, to the point that I was convinced they were Scottish until being told otherwise. But the debut album really is a grower that improves with every listen.
War Waves kicks off with the superb My Friend’s Wedding which, as alluded to above, introduces us to the band with the opening line “Young cunts with the conversation,” and laments the nonsense people talk (maybe at weddings?) which I can certainly relate to. A personal favourite line is: “And I’m fine with the conversation style, Yes I am, And you could handle far more chemicals than I can.” It typifies how easy it is to relate to War Waves’ lyrics generally, particularly through the beautiful chorus with its three layers of lyrics over a funky little guitar riff, which simply states “If I admit to you that I have never felt so scared” repeatedly, and gets stuck in your head for hours.
Third track Signals opens up with a deliciously cool guitar lick which rolls into an instantly catchy verse and evolves into an an intensely emotional ride. From the deep and meaningful laments of “You’re on your own” the song plays out with repeats of “Life it never is how you would used to think and wish that it would be,” and it’s simply impossible not to love it. The band excels at moving from moments of pause and launching into moving rocky phrases, as typified as Trophy Life kicks into life.
The pace is stepped up a notch by one of the album highlights Hockey Stick, which kicks off with a fast-paced guitar riff before dropping into a slower more sombre interlude for “But now how’s my skin supposed to reach you?” – which sounds really cool, yet I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean – followed by a really cool guitar solo.
That’s followed by a song I just can’t get enough of, Teeth. It’s a bit weird, wacky, and it makes pretty much no sense, but the lyrics are brilliant. A slow labouring guitar riff is interrupted by the opening line “Brother quick I am imagining that I swallowed my head, my shoulders were alone for hours and the guilt ran out of my neck.” It then goes on to talk about imagining removing your shins, hence the line “My knees and ankles got to know each other and you couldn’t separate them.” Go listen to it for yourself on their Bandcamp page.
The band has also released new track Horses, which sounds more upbeat and more than a little Idlewild-esque. It’s the first single from follow-up to War Waves, All That We Lack, which is out on 7th October, and hopefully we’ll bring you news of that shortly.