Review Summary: Wreck and Reference improve on their already strong formula, but still get tripped up by past issues.
Wreck and Reference are a two man act out of California that create some of the most harsh experimental music available. This vocal and drum led duo use vast arrays of samples to throw listeners into hopeful, depressive, and sometime mystical worlds for few minutes at a time. Their last record, No Youth is a solid album that displays every skill set Wreck and Reference can bring to the table. The only real issues with No Youth were a lack of time in the hellish world listeners are thrown into and the vocals were a bit weak. Wreck and Reference have listened to these criticisms and created an improved product as a result.
Want is a bombastic album, but also manages to slow down and make some ambient mood pieces. The samples in the album include bones rattling, simple piano, haunting bass lines, feedback out of your nightmares, and loud chorus music. Wreck and Reference really fill up every track with walls of sound that never cease to thrill. Vocally, Want is a massive improvement over No Youth. The harsh styling really has more emphasis from beginning to end, creating a stark contrast from the almost-spoken word elements mixed in throughout. Drumming is excellent in every song, adding to the ethereal beauty of the album.
Corpse Museum opens the album to a massive wall of distorted mastery. Both members throw some astounding loud vocals on the track, coming through beautifully on the chorus. This is Wreck and Reference’s fastest song to date and the incredibly moody tone brought on through sampling is simply special. Bankrupt is almost equally great, despite the smaller nature of the track. The sampling is limited to feedback and a moody bass line that constantly looms in the background behind the harshest screams on the record. Despite the short length, A Glass Cage for an Animal creates a fantastic mix of spoken word and heavier screams. This is Wreck and Reference putting on their best effort to create a head-banger. The best track on the second half is definitely Flies. A pretty chorus sample kicks off the track, only to broken by a spooky drum beat and spoken word vocals that are dark as hell. The mixing of muted screams behind the spoken word bars are bone-chilling throughout. Apologies ends the album in high fashion as well, creating the most soul-crushing effort in their discography. The glacial sounds evoke feelings of repressed anger, and features the nastiest lyrics on Want. “I feel my bones splintering inside me” is a sick lyric and the bone chimes sample is quite uncomfortable.
There is one main issue that Wreck and Reference fail to address though. The song lengths are not great enough for the massive walls of sound that they create. When you can sample that many terrifying sounds, the track needs to nail the sense of dread by taking some time. Most tracks like on their previous releases are bit shorter, making it hard to get lost in the visions of hell that they create. A handful of the songs are a bit disappointing too. A Tax is a fine song, but the mixing is too messy and unrewarding. Convalescence is solid but the sampling and lyrics create too simple of a sprint. Machine of Confusion is one of the scariest tracks on the album, feeling as though it belongs in a John Carpenter film. The issue with the track is that is feels too easy for them to pull off.
Wreck and Reference make some improvements over past releases, but also still have room for improvement. The lyrics on Want are haunting, the samples are even more terrifying, and the vocals have improved by leaps and bounds. Song structure and length trip up Wreck and Reference once again, but they do enough to make up for those issues.