WAAX has shared two new singles – a soulful pop ballad titled ‘Dangerous’ and a rumbling punk anthem titled ‘Help Me Hell’ – alongside the reveal of their second full album, ‘At Least I’m Free’.
“Dangerous” marks a significant departure from the band’s usual sound, driven by cold, soulful grand piano chords, warbling synths and subtle yet punchy strings. It evokes the heartfelt drunkenness of ’90s pop-rock balladism, thanks in part to the talents of former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry, with whom WAAX’s Marie “Maz” DeVita co-wrote the song.
“Help Me Hell,” meanwhile, recalls the gruff, hardcore-adjacent bite of earlier WAAX material, brimming with crisp, muffled guitars and explosive drums. DeVita’s tenor on this track is vicious and abrasive, as she passionately shouts out the chorus: “Help, fuck, my life still sucks / I can’t be someone to love / It’s not my fault, it’s just how I was taught.”
Both songs hit streaming services last night (April 5), after premiering on triple j’s Good nights program. A music video, combining the two tracks, was also released. Directed by Phoebe Faye, it opens with DeVita donning a suit and sitting in front of a lighted piano flanked by plants, thoughtfully singing “Dangerous” as the camera follows her in slow motion.
When the video pivots to “Help Me Hell,” DeVita throws off her blazer and runs into another room, where, flanked by flashing red strobes, she and her bandmates reunite with the convulsive energy of the typical WAAX live show. .
Check out the video for “Dangerous” and “Help Me Hell” below:
In a press release, DeVita said the writing process for “Dangerous” marked “one of the craziest experiences of my life.” She explained: “I had spoken to the [label] team about planning a writing trip to Los Angeles in late 2019, so naturally everyone reached out to everyone they could think of. I don’t know what the universe was doing at that time, but Linda Perry got an email, and she listened to our music.
“She asked to set up a writing session right away – and I was literally speechless. She told me she saw something in me, like a real blackness in my voice. Next thing i knew was i was in an Uber on the way to her studio shitting myself she was and still is the most remarkable human being i have had the privilege of meeting .
DeVita went on to say that “Help Me Hell” was one of the first songs she and guitarist James Gatling wrote for “At Least I’m Free,” striving to deliver something “straight to the point.” with “minimal chords, simple lyrics and no BS”.
The pair wrote it in one session, DeVita said, with their narrative angle coming from a personal place. “I felt during this time that no matter what I tried, my life didn’t change, the same patterns emerged and I felt frustrated,” she continued. “I always had this feeling of banging my head against the ceiling trying to get the hell out of here.”
Regarding the decision to release “Dangerous” and “Help Me Hell” in tandem, DeVita explained that “At Least I’m Free” is defined by its “duality and its extremes,” so the band “thought it would be best to give fans a taste of what’s to come. The highest highs and the lowest lows. No in-betweens. BUCKLE UP.
“At Least I’m Free” is set for release on August 5 via Dew Process/Universal, with pre-orders open now on WAAX’s online store. Like its predecessor, 2019’s “Big Grief,” the new album was co-produced by former Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning and Bruce Springsteen collaborator Nick DiDia.
In addition to “Dangerous” and “Help Me Hell,” the 11-track effort will include previous single “Most Hated Girl,” which landed last September as the group’s first new material in more than two years. Last week, ‘Most Hated Girl’ won the Rock category at the 2022 Queensland Music Awards, with the group beating Ball Park Music, Hallie and Hope D.
Take a look at the cover art and track listing for “At Least I’m Free” below:
1. “Mermaid Beach”
2. “Read receipts”
3. “A Man Like Me”
4. ‘No Doz’
5. “The Most Hated Girl”
6. “Beam Me Up”
8. “Jeff on the Street”
9. “Help the Hell Out”
10. “Same female dog”
Fans will be able to hear tracks from the forthcoming album live when WAAX embark on a nationwide tour next week, kicking off in Melbourne on Thursday April 14. They will see the week end with shows in Ballarat and Geelong, before taking the stage. in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Hobart, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. Tickets for all 11 shows are available here.