The jump from 2011's No Future to 2013's Discipline and Desire is a major upgrade, and a prime example of how collaboration can aid a band's output rather than hurt its creative process. Primary member and songwriter Heather Fedewa/Hether Fortune, at only 25, has already taken part in a handful of bands, been a dominatrix, dated a cult rock star (the late Jay Reatard), and developed enough confidence and self-assuredness to spew a stream of arrogance and “you don't get my art” arguments throughout her social media feeds. She carries herself with the cockiness and androgyny of a leader respectively beyond her years, and beyond traditionally-defined femininity. For someone so obscure, she's quite a somebody. And she is extremely self-aware.
It is with some nervous hesitation, then, that I dismiss her debut LP as Wax Idols for its amateur feel. Her history has solid range, from the campy Hunx and His Punx to the appropriately animated Castle Face residents Blasted Canyons. But No Future, which saw her play multi-instrumentalist on an album she'd had nearly all to herself, felt like a homemade project, perhaps even suited more for 90s-era Kill Rock Stars, and since she's come out and announced its tie to the deceased Reatard (“Gold Sneakers” is the love letter that could have been), I carry this opinion somewhat apologetically.
But music is art, and art is free to criticize once it's been released from the boundaries of personal expression and handed off to the public. And Discipline and Desire is a piece of art that finally realizes the potential of No Future. In the space between records, Fortune has gone and married (TV Ghost's Tim Gick), and she is presumably happy. Her new record is musically darker than No Future, which was somewhat ironically peppy and girly. Discipline's track order and pacing are well-thought out, and the production is polished, but it provides a tunnel of thick, smoky sound, rather than the dulled energy that tends to result from tidying up a recording. With a new set of musicians to boast, the band has gained depth and texture, and rather than wailing like one of the Soviettes, Fortune has found vocal maturity, her voice deeper and reasonably comparable to Siouxsie Sioux. Discipline and Desire is a proper album by a grown woman and perhaps one of the best in Fortune's catalog. [Slumberland]
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