Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Collect Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
On Wax Idols' third album American Tragic, frontwoman Hether Fortune remains as unafraid of change as ever. When the project recorded its 2013 breakthrough album Discipline + Desire, it was as a full band hailing from San Francisco; this incarnation of Wax Idols is a duo (Fortune and drummer Rachel Travers) from Los Angeles. American Tragic's title hints at the wider scope, symbolic imagery, and more accessible feel of these songs; where Discipline + Desire's angst was intimate and confrontational, this album writes it large.
Hether Fortune is tough as nails. Fiercely driven and independent, the self-taught, multifaceted musician has held down positions in Hunx & His Punx, Bare Wires and the seething punk crew White Lung; fearless and unforgiving, she once single-handedly dragged a heckler straight out of her audience and into the street. That's why the third album from her primary project Wax Idols, which follows her divorce from TV Ghost's Tim Gick, is not a stereotypically solemn breakup album.Rather, American Tragic chronicles an ill-fated gothic romance, but it's strong and anthemic, triumphant in its lamentation.
As the frontperson and creative force behind Wax Idols, Hether Fortune has cultivated an aesthetic of icy cool—punk rock bravura shrouded in multiple layers of gothy frost. The last Wax Idols record—2013’s sophomore effort Discipline + Desire—was an exercise in sustained tension informed, at least in part, by her training as a professional dominatrix. As a result, the record played like an extended tease—tantalizing the listener with heavily eyelinered pop stylings but still keeping things at a cool remove, always stopping just shy of delivering the kind of massive hook that could have potentially knocked everyone out of their collective creepers.
Wax Idols’ third album comes webbed over with melodrama, the kind that makes pain legible and real, paradoxically, by pushing it so far away that it becomes a parody of itself. Sometimes that’s the only way to hold pain that would otherwise burn you up from the inside. Written in the midst of lead singer Hether Fortune’s doomed marriage and subsequent divorce, American Tragic isn’t shy about tracing the cartoonish contours of suffering.
"Severely Yours" makes a great title for the twisted love songs on Wax Idols' new American Tragic. Where goth-punk goddess Hether Fortune is concerned, "severely" is guaranteed—but don't get too sure about "yours." She's charismatic enough to peel paint off a passing car, and the third album from her Bay Area one-woman band Wax Idols is where she comes into her own musically: late-night death-disco break-up songs, from an alternate timeline where the Siouxsie of 1985 jams with the Banshees of 1981. Although Fortune played bass for a while in the excellent punk combo White Lung, the sound of American Tragic is new-wave gloss.