Friday, June 17, 2011

WU LYF: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

     WU LYF claim to be a movement. The 'Youth Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation' are one of the more interesting quartets to appear on the music scene recently, but are certainly not the first. Clouded in a deliberate and mysterious smog, with their Wikipedia page deleted numerous times, the press and media have flocked to this particular band like moths to the flame. They refuse interviews, don't pose for photo shoots, and in an age arguing about injunctions and where nearly everything can be Googled, the group's obscurity seems strangely captivating. Although their marketing campaign is effective, it's not revolutionary. Bands like '!!!' and the 'Borstal Corduroys' have experimented with going offline, though arguably with less success. Personally, I have to admit to being drawn into the hype, but I congratulate the band for their ingenuity. The music videos are shot by their friend, and the album cover is also created by a mate. The sound, though flawed, is also a breath of fresh air to the lately rather bland psychedelic rock scene.
     Their downfall is though, entirely their own fault. Their riddle-filled updates and intention on remaining obscure has created an air of mysterious presence. A veil that, when ripped away with this release, reveals a band that doesn't quite live up to the image they've been very careful in crafting. The group's sound, rather than being modest, is amplified to a level that feels arrogant, with huge noises echoed around the recording studio come church, creating a wall of noise that was obviously intended to make the Manchester quartet sound big. I can't help but feel that the tone to the music from these guys would have worked better had it not been bolstered by the anonymity that in the end, appears almost laughable. Yet, from the embers of regrettable cons, pros have arisen. Due to all the speculation, people have dreamed about the sound they hoped to hear. Therefore, when they do actually listen to the record, they overlook some details (like how WU LYF sound incredibly like Gomez) in a state of near denial. You have to admit that the band have grown themselves into a fascinating social monster that intrigues the best of us, with their almost cult-like secrecy.
     Recorded in a church, and with prominent organ sounds playing away, reverb is lathered on many of the  tracks here, unifying the songs in a way that feels noisy. Instead of using the reverb to amplify vocals or guitar effects, it's used consistently to make them sound bigger, and more impressive than they actually are, which I mentioned before. At the start of the album, and in particular on the opener, 'L Y F', these sonic atmospheres work well, before you realise most of the remaining record follows suit. Vocals wise, it's pretty much the same story. At the beginning, the unique croaky vocals work extremely well, before that feeling is ruined by the fact the singer doesn't know when to vary his pitch or tone. Even on one of the slower songs, 'Such A Sad Puppy Dog', the vocals still sound like a slowed down version of everything else. Tolerable just about sums it all up.
     Worst track? 'We Bros'. It's throbbing bass is more prone to giving you a headache, leading the song to collapse into a mess that feels sickening rather than interesting. The second half involves some better harmonies, but the same chord progressions and drum patterns make this just another boring track. Favourite song? I'm split between two. 'Dirt' has nice drums at the start which unfortunately fall into the same patterns seem on everything else, with '14 Crowns For Me & Your Friends' sounding the most thought through, but ultimately revealing nothing special. The album closes with 'Heavy Pop', a relatively nice finisher that slows down a lot while still retaining the aggression and summer rebellion that make what WU LYF do sound fresh. I was impressed at a few points in this record, but as for an overall feel, I came away from 'Go Tell Fire to the Mountain' rather dazed and dizzied for all the wrong reasons. Arrogant in parts and lacking in variety, I would ask people to ruthlessly ignore the build up this album, concentrating on the music itself which in the end, I'm afraid I'm not in love with.