If the perpetually sarcastic and exaggeratedly bored-sounding Aubrey Plaza fronted a band, she’d probably sound very similar to WALL’s vocalist Sam York. Pair this comparison with production and instrumentation similar to Le Tigre’s first album as well as the herky-jerky, no-wave-inspired sound of Tigerbeat6 band Numbers, and you’ll have a good idea of what you’re getting with WALL’s self-titled four-song EP.
Straight out of the gate, the NYC post-punk quartet takes aim at the nouveau riche with “Cuban Cigars”. York manages to effectively convey both attitude and ennui as she repeatedly denounces the bourgeoisie, singing, “fresh baked bread keeps the pigs well fed.” Utilizing a quirky drum pattern similar to the one Devo used on their cover of the Rolling Stones’ song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, WALL then launch into “Fit The Part”. The drum pattern is abandoned and replaced with a frenetic, tense build up which ultimately leads to a spoken word moment similar to the one Ian Curtis breaks into on Joy Division’s “No Love Lost”.
The two songs that make up the second half of this EP aren’t nearly as entertaining or interesting as the first two and sound as if they were hastily thrown together. At barely over a minute and a half in length, “Last Date” features short, intermittent, jagged, mostly atonal electric guitar bursts seesawing back-and-forth with the vocals. The record’s final song “Milk” is an exercise in listener patience as WALL pull back slightly and stretch out one of their compositions. After the first minute, the band drops into a sustained groove as Sam York delivers a spoken word piece about cats and milk pouring out of the sky.
WALL’s inspirations are obvious and can be heard in specific moments all over this EP. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it definitely makes one wonder how they’ll fill a full length LP without being labeled as derivative or retro. In addition to this obstacle, the brevity of this four-song record, and the disappointing second half, suggests that the band may have run out of ideas too early and will need to either draw inspiration from ancillary genres or, perhaps more interestingly, push themselves into experimental territory.