A little over a year ago, in reviewing Wax Idols debut full-length No Future I stated that there was trouble lurking around the corner with Hether Fortune and her post-punk outfit Wax Idols. Ramshackle in that loveable, garage-y sense, No Future offered a glimpse into the psyche of one of Twitter’s most prolific musicians. Her middle-finger-in-the-air attitude was on display for everyone to hear, but in a sense, No Future was only Fortune’s first punch. And as any brawler will tell you, while it takes courage to throw the first punch, it takes even more courage to follow up with an equally combative approach. No Future was Hether Fortune sounding angry. Discipline & Desire her follow-up on Slumberland Records is the sound of Fortune digger deeper into the root causes of this anger. Remarkably, she’s turned a corner on the morbidly engaging Discipline & Desire and exposed that aforementioned trouble that was originally lurking around the corner. Discipline & Desire may be the title of the record, but what’s heard throughout the record is an unabashed sense of desperation.
Her snot-nosed punk has evolved into textured post-punk that borrows heavily from The Cure and Jesus and Mary Chain as opposed to her Oakland and San Francisco garage rock peers. The rhythmic push on Discipline & Desire is that much more punishing, heard on the ethereal chorus of “Dethrone” and the spooked-out sway of “Sound of a Void”. Fortune searches desperately for answers on Discipline & Desire instead of simply expressing outrage at the lack of immediate answers provided, as she did on No Future. While it might be a stretch to call the women behind one of the most revealing Twitter accounts matured, Discipline & Desire is indeed much more of a fleshed out and comprehensive effort.
“I was dancing alone at the edge of the world,” she sings on the reluctantly catchy swirl of “When It Happens”. “I was singing my own praises to an audience of stones,” she continues. There are apocalyptic undertones throughout Discipline & Desire yet Fortune does not rally against the coming night. Instead, she’s standing with a little more caution, eager to solidify her place in whatever’s left of the world she once called home.
Because Fortune’s evolution as a songwriter has been so progressive, you can understand why she’d want to crank out as many releases as possible in a short amount of time. And Discipline & Desire is indeed a departure, but in what sounds like an attempt to cover up for the scrappy nature of No Future the bulk of Discipline & Desire comes off sounding rushed and, at times, not hitting its full potential sonically. There’s little doubt that the pounding “Cartoonist” and the engulfing “Stare Back” have an immediate visceral edge, yet there’s hints of confusion at how to best present these tracks.
What Discipline & Desire best asserts is that Hether Fortune is not scared of life’s ills she sings about repeatedly. Odds are her next release (and there most certainly will be another one soon enough) will be a drastic departure from Discipline & Desire. Let’s just hope she finds some answers to her questions.