New York outfit Wall’s Untitled is a post-punk no-wave masterpiece. It is inspiring to see a project that does not match the status quo, at least in the cultural garbage dump of today, rise in popularity. They rose with the process of mastering what the masters before them have mastered, and adding it to their art to continue where others have left off. The ten track album only reaches a half-hour, leaving no room for dull moments for this charged four-piece. With Untitled, Wall resuscitates the conventional wisdoms rooted in the glory days of punk, no-wave, and post-punk with innovation and candidness.
The album starts off with an Adolescents-style punctual punk track titled, “High Ratings.” It has a message of self-liberation, bringing attention to media-driven societal standards, and the universal guilt everyone shares in taking part in keeping them alive. An Old-fashioned punk standard. That follows with “Shimmer of Fact,” a sung prose about the incessant inner dialogue. The layers of vocals overlap a create a simple melody to get hooked on. The bass and guitar play against one another in a close, but slightly off, harmony, and the drums keep the set moving. At the climax, the instruments drop to clear the stage, and the anxiety increases. They return in a clamorous form at the point of lyrical epiphany, and the song returns to its minimalistic post-punk rhythm. The third track, “Save Me,” is one of those punk narratives that has its philosophical, but apathetical demeanor. There is a brooding energy underneath – very reminiscent of Blatz, and a Crass drumming style. The chorus builds with a drawn out crescendo of high frequency guitars, bending and pinching ever so slightly, as the chanting vocals build layer upon layer.
After the initial burst of energy, the band then moves deeper into a coppice of post-punk that grows exponentially moment to moment. In “Circus,” the tempo changes erratically. The guitars are drenched in reverb and the drums are tom heavy – the breaking fast tempo melody is truly a punk circus waltz. “Wounded at War,” is slightly more punk musically. The lyrics negate the pro-war mentality, calling out the fallacies in the philosophies of our society’s views of peace through militarization. It brings attention to the ugly side of this mentality, primarily through the image of a homeless veteran. A piece of post-punk poetic justice. “Everything In Between” is a drone catharsis for the album. It features Pill’s Ben Jaffe on sax, who squeals in and out until taking over in the end. The sax remains with the next track which is a psychobilly cover of the Half Japanese’s “Charmed Life.”
“Weekend” is the anti-pop song about weekends. Instead of glorification of a weekend, it is more about the ensuing insanity and claustrophobia from one’s surroundings. The structure, attitude, and melody is equivalent to the Blatz track “F**k New York.” “Turning Around” has strong lyrics about snuffing chauvinism and misogyny. The drumbeat is steady in the front end, and the guitars gleam on either side while the bass fuzzes in and out in the middle. The level of noise builds as the story grows with depravity and emotional release. The finisher is “River Mansion.” Minimalistic and hazy, it creates dream-punk atmosphere. The guitar slides, slips, and pops color all over the rotating canvas of feedback with a combination of techniques and brushes from punk, no-wave, and post-punk.
Unfortunately, Wall’s career was short-lived, and this is their first and only full-length. Their blend of styles could have spanned and spoken to a wide demographic, and given the people a genuine sound for their ears and minds to feast upon. Regardless of their end coming to soon, this album and Wall’s art will definitely leave its mark, and hopefully inspire others to do so as well.