Witch Hats - Pleasure Syndrome (2011 LP)

Guttural, abrasive, bordering on obnoxious. If I had been asked to describe the music of Melbourne quartet Witch Hats 18 months ago, these are the words I'd have said. Don't get me wrong, these adjectives are all still valid, only this time with the release of their second full-length album Pleasure Syndrome, they are so much more.

Exhuming a casual pop sentimentality, the album opens with 'The Bounty'; front man Kris Buscombe's usually wiry vocals posses an air of calm, however lying underneath every word is feeling of desperation and even something weirdly romantic despite the song's a-moral nature. It's difficult to study exactly what it is Buscombe is saying; the timbre his voice and the simple, emotive The Stems-esque guitar make for an undeniably catchy song, and grabs all your attention before you can get any further. 'Another Worthless Body Soul' sees Thomas Barry to pull off some Latin American-inspired guitar, sounding effortless and sombre while Ash Buscombe weighs 'Mahoney' down with a brazen bass line, a sly stabbing guitar slips in and out and Kris Buscombe's voice returns with a snarl.

'In The Mortuary', in a similar fashion to the album's opener displays a sense of longing in Buscombe's voice, one could even accuse him of crooning at points; "and if it's true, don't let me see him with you...". If a Witch Hats song was to ever bring anyone to tears, it would probably be this one; it refuses to lack in the dirtiness that Witch hats are known for, while still being a song with real heart.

The album’s first single 'Hear Martin', inspired by Tasmania's most infamous Martin, is like nothing Witch Hats have done before. Opening with smoky organ riff, it's jarring to hear something that up until now had been so out of place. The succinct nature in Buscombe's delivery when matched with the bounce of his brother bass, it's hard not to make comparisons to the funk influences of The Clash, however it still maintains the brash, wrath-filled nature Witch Hats are known for.

Witch Hats’ Pleasure Syndrome is the ultimate balance between new and old. It shows evolution, more subtleties however still manages to maintain all the riotous, indignant and murky elements that are attractive in Witch Hats’ songs.

Review Score: 9.5/10