There’s a gap between what we want, how it is, and what we want to be. An existential divide between how we dream, how we feel, how we think, and what actually gets done in the modern world. WIVES doesn’t know how to reconcile this, and they don’t try to give you the answer; instead, So Removed, their incisive debut album due out in October via City Slang, plunges into that void of unknown, a tangle of contemporary dread and optimism, mapping the gray areas of alienation.
The Queens, NY four-piece is the latest fit into a long lineage of New York’s gritty, melodic-meets-punk. So Removed, is hook-driven, grungy dark-wave, tethered to daily anxiety without resorting to cynicism. The noisy dissonance of Sonic Youth, the edgy hooks of early Pixies, and the clever, cerebral sneering of the Fall simmer as touchstones within the LP, sharp and prodding at the details, pulsing with urgency.
WIVES is Jay Beach on guitar and vocals, Adam Sachs on drums, Andrew Bailey on guitar and Alex Crawford on bass. Embedded in New York’s DIY music scene through their respective projects, with years of playing house shows and booking their own tours under their belts, it wasn’t until a random day of extra studio time booked for another project that the four of them actually played together. That first day yielded the blistering “Waving Past Nirvana,” along with the jaunting “The 20 Teens” and the frenetic “Hideaway.” So Removed came together in stolen moments, mainly during off-hours with the band doing much of the recording themselves. Rippling with a visceral intensity and a live sound, its clawing for sonic optimism butts heads with lyrics wading through the intensity of alienation.
“The 20 Teens” is WIVES’ capturing the definitive sound of contemporary rock; Jay cites hearing A-ha blaring at a Bushwick restaurant and thinking all of the lyrics might as well have been, “This is the ‘80s, this is the ‘80s,” and took his own stab at doing a track for the 2010s. “The 20 Teens” follows a stoned narrator enveloped by delusions of grandeur before being brought back down to earth, the chorus an exalted refrain of mundanity.