Wax Idols American Tragic on LP + Download
You could say that a lot has happened since the release of Wax Idols' critically well-received 2013 album, Discipline + Desire, and if you're steeped in the shorthand of music criticism go-to narratives, it would be dangerously easy to get reductive about what happened next. The band's singer-songwriter, Hether Fortune, supported the album as best she could, spent some time in 2014 as a touring player in White Lung, went through a heartbreaking divorce, and then sat down to make American Tragic – the band's long-awaited third album and first for Collect Records. But that's not exactly how it went.
"Divorce is a part of this record, yes, but this is not an entirely sad album," Fortune explains. "The whole spectrum of grief is represented here – shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that and not only survive, but thrive. That's what I was going through. I was trying to save myself."
Indeed, this is not only a deeply personal record, but a chiefly independent one. As a songwriter and true multi-instrumentalist, Fortune wrote and recorded everything but the drums on American Tragic – a feat only bolstered by the album's compelling performances and meticulous execution, but a little known fact nonetheless. Co-produced by Fortune and Monte Vallier (Weekend, Mark Eitzel, The Soft Moon, Vaniish), the only other player on this record is drummer Rachel Travers.
But it's also a meditation on an idea that Fortune has been playing with over the entire arc of Wax Idols' discography, and that is the notion that personhood is neither fixed nor consistent: We can be independent and attached, in need of discipline and desire, or even fully autonomous with a little bit of help. As Fortune points out here, even America, for all its symbolism and mythic value, also rests in tragedy.