If you whittle the job of a reviewer down to someone who puts music into neat little boxes, surrounded by other like minded and sonically compatible bands, then Wasabi Fire Alarm are one of those bands that confound the job. Or at least make us journo’s have to put a bit more thought and effort into things.
There are parts of Self Doubt, the creeping bass line, the middle-eight rant/vocal bits and the spacious nature of the arrangements that immediately put me in mind of bands such as The Breeders and Belly, that arty, alty, college rock indie vibe that was more of an American thing that a UK one but powerful enough to cross the water and sow seeds here too. There is also a hint of Patti Smith’s poetic and off kilter deliveries to be found amongst the more conventional vocal styles, which is interesting to me as I consider her to be the real instigator of punk, forget all that nonsense about The Ramones and New York Dolls. And real deal punk ideas are often found in the most unpunk places, especially once you get past the idea of punk being anything more than an attitude.
But musical this isn’t punk of course. It is indie, it is alt-rock, it is warped pop, it is many things but more than anything it is non-conformist, it wanders its own path, it leads rather than follows, it pushes into uncharted territory rather than looks for footprints. It is full of groove, a blend of industrial bass lines and skanky garage rock guitars but played for effect rather than mere weight.
The fact that they also look like members of four different bands is also a box ticked in my book. Who wants to follow fashion when you can be your own weird, self fulfilling prophecy or even a scene unto yourself? Self-doubt isn’t something that would come within a mile of this band.