New Music out of the UK
By Nick Parker
Like pretty much any rebellious young band, WU LYF have been quoted as saying that they don't think they owe anything to their purported roots. They tell us that the historic Manchester (UK) music scene, typified by bands like the Stone Roses and Joy Division, is nothing to them. Instead, in one interview at least, they argued that they were far more influenced by other classic, but this time US sounds: the output of SST in the 80s, and Black Flag for example.
I often find this kind of maneuver a bit predictable and boring. By definition R&R should be in perpetual revolution, so another young band rejecting what came before them is little more than a cliché. In most cases I find this protestation hardly ever delivers either: bands are so keen to break new ground that they end up throwing the musical baby out with the bathwater, or they aren’t nearly as radical as they claim, and just wish they were.
WU LYF though, actually manage to go further than their own claims. They don’t sound much like the manc. bands that came before them, and yet they don't sound much like SST stuff either. In fact, it's a bit of push to find a musical precursor to WU LYF.
Instead, their sound is deeply embedded in a quite odd recording environment – an empty church in the Ancoats area of the city. The space stamps the whole record with a character of reverb which goes far beyond the kind of subtle coloring that engineers normally add, in the mix. Everything is overrun with this disorienting wash of music played in such a cavernous room. Mixed into these layers of reverb is a growling indistinct vocals from singer Ellery Roberts, so you've got something airy and yet still driving, which doesn't sound like much else I've come across.
In the end WU LYF manage to sound not only fresh and new, but also emotional charged and beautiful. It's quite an achievement. The debate about where to position WU LYF misses the real point then: they have made an album that you will keep coming back to, so you can marvel at the different musical shapes they have been able to concoct.
NEW: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
WU LYF - Dirt
WU LYF - Dirt