Reviewed by: Max Miller
It was late 2014 when we last heard a full-length from New York’s self-described “mutant rock” concern PC Worship. That record, Social Rust, matched the mood of that year — a year where the political engine that would birth Donald Trump’s nationalist dipshittery stirred to life, and the shootings that spurred the Black Lives Matter movement began occurring all too regularly.
Autumn of 2015 brought us Basement Hysteria, a short EP that found PC Worship matching the steady decay of society, but we have waited until now for an album-length document of the piss-soaked hell that 2017 has shaped up to be. As virulent racists, tycoons intent on deregulating everything that protects us, and unhinged conspiracy theorists have all stepped up to sway the international conversation, there has been no time in recent memory more ripe for mutants than right now.
At first listen, Buried Wish feels like a classic PC Worship outing. Instrumental opener “Lifeless Rain on an Empty Moon” sets an ominous tone before “Blank Touch” comes crashing in like a tree branch falling through a roof. It’s a prototypical PC Worship number, with droning vocals and howling blues-rock guitars spackling the cracks between words. It bleeds nicely into “River Running Sideways,” which takes the band’s go-to approach and dials it back a little, making for one of the hookiest songs the band has ever recorded. But on the cynical “Back of My $$$”, the band is back to their signature blend of industrial grime, Sabbathian doom and grungy ennui.
Buried Wish is nothing if not a scuzzfest of extraordinary proportions, but there are still moments of stunted beauty, like flowering weeds poking up between the cracks in cement. The fittingly beatific ending of “Tranq” flows into the title track, which consists of an eerily pretty six minutes of drone over a somehow-not-ominous marching beat. And then there are the softer, folky numbers like “Flowers & Hunting” and “Tranquil Pain.” While these songs have their unavoidable moments of dissonance, they offer a respite from the album’s sonic onslaught.
PC Worship is a collective of sorts — a cult, if you will, centered around charismatic Grand Poobah Justin Frye, whose droning vocals serve as the eye of the band’s furious storm. Frye wrote and recorded Buried Wish in a condemned building in Bushwick which flooded midway through the process. It’s a fitting creation myth for the album, with an appropriately biblical apocalyptic tenor. Things certainly don’t look good right now. Frye’s visions of mutation, desecration and death feel less fringe than they might have two or three years ago. But on the other hand, mankind has been foreseeing imminent armageddon for as long as it has been able to conceive of an end to all things. It’s a dark moment in history right now, sure, but with perseverance we can surely get through it. But for those moments when it feels like we’re truly living in the end times, waiting for the bomb to drop or for a seemingly innocuous glass of water to mutate us into a gibbering, cancerous mass, Buried Wish is a fitting soundtrack for our anxieties.