Review Summary: Anarchy in the court.
No this isn’t progressive rock. Yes the title is a take on King Crimson’s brilliant debut. Of course that is aggravating, probably is the whole point.
Now that we’ve got this out of the way, that tiny issue, along with that stupid cover, are it really. Few other things can be said to notch away at the London trio’s proper debut album. If anything, Let’s Wrestle have thrown together a shambled collection of rock n’ roll tunes, steeped in British (post)punk, with a Pavement slack, and a Pixies-esque love for surf riffs and do-wop. But influences aside, Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (WPG for short), and his self absorbed word play (issues!) is endlessly compelling, along with bassist Mike Lightning and drummer Darkus Bishop refusal to be stuffed into any specific “genre“, In The Court Of The Wrestling Let‘s
is a surprisingly captivating record.
For all the interesting turns, and fun experiments that the record showcases by it’s end, at first; it sure seems like Let’s Wrestle are trying really hard to fool you into thinking they’re a knock off brit-punk band who don’t give a ***. While “My Arm’s Don’t Bend That Way, Damn It!” and “I’m In Love With Destruction” are charming in their own way (distortion and sullen themes) they’re really not much more than a showcase for WPG and, uh, his ways.
Broken suicide refusal choruses and apparent pathological love of ruining relationships aside, the man proves he can write an interesting lyric. Though not until the half Clash(y) punk/half paranoid Cure rattle of third track, and one of many album standouts “Tanks,” does the rest of the band step their game up. But once rhythm is on level with Gonazles infectious jingly riffs and brilliant hooks Let’s Wrestle take off.
In The Court Of The Wrestling Let’s
finds most of its strength in the fact that everything about this band is almost too surprising. Not in the sense of who they are, or what they’re doing personally -- but more so how they sound and what they do on record. The dreamy guitar rips and backing vocals of “My Schedule,” the lazy ode to early Beach Boys and Buddy Holly that is “In Dreams.” The drunken guitar bombast and blistering hooks of “We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon” or the serious(ly good) attempt at sounding like Grandaddy in “Song For Old People,” all their little endeavors to *** it all up, just work in the end. Every turn the band takes seems to pay off in full, why, is still up for debate, because by all accounts there is too much muck, fuzz and genre mashing for this dinky little group of British kids to handle. Well, guess no one told Let’s Wrestle that, because from all the things that should play as negatives, just seem to endear them. Gonzales’ strange, Byrne meets Robert Smith yelp is an odd tool to voice his off beat persona (“When I do I have the bestest dreams/About tanks, and television/And football teams”
) but just like the aforementioned vocalists, by album end WPG has proven his chops. His slightly whiny, accent heavy brogue melds into the music, causing both to seem like they’d utterly crumble to pieces without the other. Its just that sense of teetering madness, the slight off kilter bravado, and laid back approach that makes this Court
such a satisfying trip in the first place. One that begs for additional listens, and will reward in kind for what time you put into it. At 42 minutes in 16 tracks it can almost seem daunting, especially considering that the album’s best track is the namesake and closer. Nice thing is though, every time you make it there, it never feels like wasted time.