The album cover for Container shows tins of canned food, displayed neatly on a gray backdrop. It shows their contents in vibrant colors, which were no doubt formulated in factories to look so attractive. A simple yet effective depiction that represents our current climate, with our panic-bought stockpiles of processed food and shrines of toilet paper. Brooklyn-based trio The Wants uses a similar approach in each track of their debut album. Combining subtle hints of art-pop, synth-pop and post-punk into their sound to paint its themes. The result is a familiar yet distinctive collection of razor-sharp pop songs and sinuous synth instrumentals that range from moody ambience to danceable rave-ups.
“Ramp” starts off the album on a pulsating launchpad that primes up the hydraulics, it straps us into a bed of swelling synths and gets us ready for processing. The title track follows suit, with its grim depiction of the rat race that we’re all sucked into: “Dodge it, massage it / Keep it well oriented, then dislodge it / Unearth so it can take the place of me.” Its narrator suggests how we’re all molded to fit into a container, immediately replaceable when we’re no longer useful.
The gloomy synth-pop grooves of “Fear My Society” is reminiscent of Depeche Mode. It wrestles with anxiety in our media-obsessed age, where everyone keeps flaunting their best self while frantically hiding their imperfections from view. Vocalist Madison Velding-VanDam encompasses it all with the line: “Will you love me if I’m a failure?”
“The Motor” could be the soundtrack if David Lynch directed Mad Max. Its narrator describes the joy of driving at breakneck speed. The instrumentation hums and screeches with every beat, a vehicle that sports a fully electric engine and neon headlights.
“Clearly a Crisis” came straight out of an underground rave party, where people are required to wear face masks and protective equipment. There’s an ominous wail of riffs and swells that foreshadow danger lurking in each corner. No one is safe, and we should all be weary of our actions.
The alluring rhythm of “Hydra” will keep you on your toes, swaying back and forth to every punch of the drums. This could have been a straightforward diss-track if not for the imagery of its titular mythical creature, breeding more heads and evolving to a bigger problem. It’s hard to resist singing along when Velding-VanDam howls the line : “Slay the Hydra”.
The Wants stands out and cuts through all the noise in their debut album. Container is expertly mixed and curated, with each element having a purpose, all the while stringing along its narrative themes. Although their sound veers too close to their musical influences, this debut is undoubtedly a compelling start, and should signal listeners to pay attention.
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