After working with the Reigning Sound's Greg Cartwright on their previous album (Do You Want Power) and stretching the boundaries of their well-established garage punk sound a bit, the Ettes headed back to Liam Watson’s Toe Rag Studio to crank out the more Ettes-y sounding Wicked Will. This time out there are precious few ballads or moments of introspection, no psych-y interludes, not much subtlety, and lots of raw and ready energy. Once they get past the seething acoustic ballad “Teeth,” which opens the album, Coco, Jem, and Poni sound like they are on a mission of destruction. Even with Watson dumping a bucket of old-time reverb over their heads, they rage and pound through the songs with a tight, sparse abandon and a barely controlled fury. As with the other albums Watson produced, the monstrous and distorted bass and drums give the songs all kinds of power, while Coco's guitar adds razor-sharp toughness and her voice soars over the top alternately pleading with honey or spitting with fire. The songs range from slow-burning rockers like "You Never Say" and "The Pendulum" to fast and furious rockers like "Excuse" and "Don’t Bring Me Down," all with hooky choruses and enough energy to power a small town. Throw in a rollicking cover of the Lee Hazlewood-penned "My Baby Cried All Night Long" and the busted-up sounding lament "The Worst There Is," which closes the album on a down note, and you have a record that stands with their best work and makes for a truly invigorating listen. If the band were merely backtracking from the more arranged and fleshed-out sound Cartwright gave them, this record could be seen as a retreat. Instead, it sounds like they needed to go back to Watson to root out demons and get back to basics; instead, it sounds like a charge.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra