El tercer larga duración de Broken Water se titula Wrought (Night People, 2015), y es una continuación lógica a su anterior trabajo: Tempest (2012). Los de Olimpia continúan moviéndose en la misma visceralidad Dream-Punk cercana tanto a posiciones de lo que fue el Pop vanguardista como del Post-Grunge. Una bonita mezcla que les sitúa en una posición quizás algo solitaria en el vasto paisaje musical actual, lo cual les concede además el privilegio de ser una de las bandas más originales del momento.
Su disco es áspero, duro a las primeras escuchas, pero disfrutable al dedicarle la atención necesaria. Quizás a ello también contribuya el trabajo de Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Beat Happening) quien se ha encargado de limar ciertas asperezas que aparecían en su sonido anterior, aunque quizás éstas también formaran parte de su encanto.
Sea como fuere, Wrought se sitúa en una especia de islote musical privilegiado desde el que se puede atisbar un amplio panorama musical y una suerte de influencias que han dado como resultado un sonido verdaderamente personal.
“The sound mixes ebbing shoegaze guitars and fast pings of aggression, with vocals split between Pooknyw’s indie-pop lilt and guitarist Jon Hanna’s scraping, unapologetically grunge twang. Broken Water are a politics-upfront kind of band, the kind whose drummer would take her clothes off at a hardcore festival todeconstruct ideas about materialism, punk, and image; scream “MALE FREEDOM” at men taking up too much space at shows; who had a song on their first demo called “Feminism”which plainly (and literally) spelled out the word in the lyrics. At the same time, they’ve also routinely drawn inspiration from improvisational psych-punk and drone jams. BeforeWrought, Broken Water’s last release was a wordless EP of two 15-minute songs, Seaside & Sedmikrasky, with string arrangements by Lori Goldston of Earth.
It is appropriate, then, that Broken Water’s string of three LPs and two EPs have slipped between explicitly radical and introspective. And that Wrought opens with questions rather than answers. “Am I right or am I wrong? All I know is I do not know,” goes the beginning of “High-Lo”. It’s a simple but poignant sentiment, tapping into the tension that comes from a life spent deliberating values and questioning everything. “Scapegoats for the police state over petty theft/ Yet we trust the dollar bill and uniforms with guns?” she asks on “Love and Poverty”.
Wrought searches for beauty in monotony and interrogates everyday oppressions, often in the same track. “1984” is a sprawling meditation on surveillance culture, where Pooknyw sings atop layers of slow-moving guitars about the NSA’s collect-it-all program of location-based metadata and turns it into something more poetic. “Are you aware you are observed?” she sings, her voice cool and even, almost drab. Other punk bands might pry open these ideas with palpable urgency, but Broken Water capture a central sadness and a numbness, tapping into the surreality of the surveillance state.
“Close” is Pooknyw’s take on a soul-crushing service industry job, with images of broken glass, mopping the floor, counting the till, locking the door. At the end of the night she tells herself over tired-sounding, behind-the-beat drums: “More… need something more… than my wages garnished for a war.” On the page, Pooknyw’s punk poetry outlines a relatable, simple-enough narrative, but its wise and weathered feeling is made palpable in her deadpan vocal inflection and screeching walls of guitar noise. Broken Water’s strength is in this multi-layered approach; they seem to understand intuitively how to underline and deepen their words with their playing, giving Wrought an almost-cinematic feel. It seems fitting that Pooknyw is also a filmmaker.
The album finishes with “Beach”, one of their lengthy stretches of meandering guitars, wordless vocals, and looming cello from Lori Goldston. This one clocks in at 12 minutes; it’s a testament to the fact that for all the broad strokes of politics, Broken Water are ultimately concerned with what they can evoke on an emotional level. By the time you flip the record over and start again, the same words that opened the record suddenly sound more charged, heavier, heartbreaking. “Life … oh life.” (Pitchfork)