This is music that relies heavily on its fans buying into the bullshit. These songs connect with young kids because they think it’s cool at the time, but then get over it. This is music by a not-so-young kid that never got over it.
I was never too big on Bleeding Knees Club. Sure, I didn’t hate them, not by a long stretch but it was never my jam. They seemed to connect with kids a few years younger than me – freshly 18 year olds who were just starting to immerse themselves in adult culture and revelling in the fact that they could finally buy their own cigarettes.
There is always a time when youthful recklessness is fun – getting wasted, smoking cigs, hooking up with randoms, it’s cool. BKC got the spark because it connected with the current group of kids going through that period of their lives. For those a few years down the track, not so much. Now the kids are a few years older the spark has died and they’ve moved on to other kinds of fun. I thought perhaps BKC did too, until I heard Wax Witches.
Alex Wall, the singer guitarist of BKC stepped out on his own and started writing and recording under the name Wax Witches around 2013. This occurred around the same time he started living in the United States. When I heard the songs on Wax Witches’ previous album, Celebrity Beatings, I thought it was just BKC continued in a solo guise. Now Alex Wall has come out with a new bunch of songs, this time through Burger Records – and I still don’t like it.
Centre of Your Universe bugs me for a few reasons. I guess the first is that I don’t like the music. Fair enough, I reckon. It’s not much a departure from BKC, guitar riffs saturated in summer sun, anthemic statements about being young and cool – typical rock shite. I listened to Blink-182 when I was young as well, I had my dose. I also find Wall’s vocals grating (and his lyrics, but more on that below) but that is a matter of personal taste.
This second album continues the trend of celebrating excessive, youthful, adrenaline-fuelled idiocy and worshipping “rock-star” ideals. Dying young, being a bad example, believing you are too unique to live – that sort of stuff. It’s an arrogant album, one that takes itself too seriously and then realises, then tries to pass itself off as aloof and funny too. It doesn’t work.
This is music that relies heavily on its fans buying into the bullshit. Wanting to die at 27 because Hendrix, Cobain and Morrison did is silly. Loving the fact that you thought you were suffering from serotonin syndrome because you wigged out after a puff on a joint isn’t cool (you wouldn’t like serotonin syndrome if you experienced it). Believing you are an ultra-outcast even though you try to be consistently on trend isn’t cool either. This album doesn’t commit hard enough to the ideal – it’s not really, it’s not confronting: it’s a romanticised take on what a kid thinks being cool is all about. No realism, no substance.
These songs connect with young kids because they think it’s cool at the time, but then get over it. This is music by a not-so-young kid that never got over it. He wants to be idolised and seen as cool, yet tries downplaying his impact on the minds of the youth (see: his Track by Track on Mess and Noise). It doesn’t work like that. He is perpetuating a petulant ideal long after he should have learned better.
He isn’t the only one to celebrate these kinds of things, but he just doesn’t seem authentic. I can’t take him seriously because from the sound of his music he is just throwing darts at a cool-dude board and seeing what term he hits, then writing about it. The musicianship isn’t horrible but everything else about this album puts a bad taste in my mouth. The musicians he and I grew up listening to had way less pretension – we could tell that Cobain was troubled; we grew with Blink-182. There isn’t any growth here – just a stagnant soul who can’t get out of the “too cool” mindset.
Centre Of Your Universe is out now on Buger Records (USA) and Stop Start Music (Australia).