Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe (Soft Power)

An argument in a darkened room between Sonic Youth and the Pixies

Released Feb 26th, 2016 via Soft Power Records / By Ian Stanley
Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe (Soft Power) Sometimes deadpan Sonic Youth, sometimes Veronica Falls trading vocals and sometimes screaming like the Pixies, Witching Waves second album conjures a meaner beast from the darkness for the London trio.

The main thrust of Crystal Café is the overriding disdain for life and their surroundings. There’s not just a mild sense of peril in the words “Why can’t everything be the same? It’s so much worse when you make an aim” or sigh of disappointment in “3, 2, 1 I’m back to square one” from the track ‘Make It Up’ it’s an actual boredom at how crap Witching Waves see life as. There’s no expectation from them and all of that is poured into this music and mixed in with whatever will to make an effort they have left. The result is an album delivered through gritted teeth with guitars that give more cut than their fuzzed sound would usually allow.

But this doesn’t seem to be an album all about being miserable and having a crap time of it – that would be dull. It also moves with a decent pace and jigs around with menace. Lead singer Emma Wigham’s vocals exist upon two planes. She’s either deadpan and subdued or leading a procession of staring, nodding crowds forwards. Something as simple as repeatedly chanting, “I try” in ‘The Threat’ is effective in setting a chugging pace, alongside roughly struck DIY guitars, to create additional live atmosphere for this album.

Waiting for the end of the album is worth it with ‘The Flowers’ finishing with its deadpan and deep guitars. It highlights the deeper duskiness to both the vocals and guitar. This mirrors a Wolf Alice or, again, a Sonic Youth song. It shows that while Witching Waves do pump out the pessimism at a pace, they can also sit in their emotions and wallow.

This latest effort the band is a chance to spread their popularity out wider. While first album Fear of Falling Down, possibly didn’t garner them the recognition it deserved whereas Crystal Café, alongside continued touring in the US and UK, should boost their chances. A lot like witnessing an argument in a darkened room between Sonic Youth and The Pixies, this is an album that wears its discontent of society on its sleeve - Crystal Café is the sneer at the ridiculousness of a tiny biscotti on the side of your coffee.