Review: Wazu EP

Wazu is a two-piece darkwave band transplanted from Sydney, Australia to New York City. Its members, Matt and Rizz, met in college and previously played together as Australia-based Captains. I don’t know if it’s because the duo has only released singles since the formation of Wazu or not, but I completely missed the release of their self-titled EP this past January. Here’s a stab at introduction by review.

The thing to hate about this EP is that it’s comprised of three songs, and they were all written as singles. The audacity of the band to refer to the record as an ‘extended play’ collection is a bit ludicrous to me – though I’m all for envelope-pushing. The inner toil over that fact is influencing my regard for them as artists and how much I really ‘like’ the music, though I do. All three songs are worthy in their own right, and it would’ve been easier to lambast the EP idea if they didn’t fit. But maybe telling of the duo’s professionalism and intuitions, the revamp of these songs proved that they could mesh together. And not that name drops matter, but by sheer stylistic standards, producer Kevin McMahon’s involvement didn’t hurt.

“Murder 1” is the opener. The splashy snare slaps on top of smaller electronic kicks and coupled with a way-too-compressed loop work well together. The beat holds water (that part in a very Tears for Fears fashion) to the raunchy guitars that encroach it from the start. Having read about the band and developed an interest, I’m a little let down as to how much Matt’s vocals overshadow Rizz’s, since she’s supposed to be the secret weapon here. Nonetheless, I’m a sucker for fe/male duals. And even though these aren’t really harmonies, they are fun in a punk attitude/melodramatic delivery sort of way.

When the guitars get sonic-ish on the bridge of the first tune, the tonality of the song makes more sense. The noise is nice, although the delays could come up a notch. All the same, it helps to gel the second tune, “Happy Endings,” especially the fuzzy, stiff bass. I dig how Rizz’s vocals are affected on the verses on this tune and how they’re coupled with the airy guitars that turn to very Duran Duran-like bridge hangover parts. The hokiness of the organ keys and major/minor switchovers give the name some credibility.

The final track, “Walk All Night,” takes a different, more mellow approach than the previous tracks. The beat ups the ante, approaching rolls of heavy handed 90s drum machine kicks and handclaps ala Le Tigre on an 808 or a 909, and just as rigid. The peaky guitar/key mashup on top of that and the distorted bass gives Wazu something new that none of these types of bands have: they achieve ‘dark’ easily. It’s not effortless, and definitely intended, but they don’t shut off pieces of obvious personal influence and experience to get there.

The thematic blanket under which these three songs were written – even if that was, simply, new attitude, new band, clean slate – proved itself a workable formula for Wazu. If you’re looking for a Soho Dolls and early 90s ‘happy’ new wave sandwich, press set and sealed with a two-ton master limiter that distorts to mod, experimental electro proportions, then Wazu is for you.


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