Review Summary: A truly special debut album.
Every so often, a new band comes along that is so blatantly special that we come to expect nothing but the very best from them even in the preliminary stages of their career. Such acts aren’t common, but when they do appear there is always the danger of them becoming weighed down by the colossal burden of expectation that is thrust upon their shoulders, and that’s the concern I had for WU LYF. Whether it be through their spellbinding early releases or their bizarre anti-marketing scheme, the Manchester quartet have generated an enormous buzz over recent months, with spectators even hailing them as the next great hope in a city with a supremely rich musical heritage. Living up to such billing is no enviable task, but this debut LP goes a long way towards justifying such praise as well as emulating the success of their spiritual forefathers.
That word ‘spiritual’ was carefully chosen, as it’s one that fits more than any other in encompassing what this album, an the band in general, is all about. Recorded in a disused church in their home city, each and every song here gives off a warm, almost religious vibe which thoroughly enhances the listening experience. Quite clearly, much of this is down to the heavy use of organ throughout, but the roots grow deeper than that, with the swooning guitar chimes and mid-tempo dynamics also contributing wholly to the lush atmospherics. Perhaps the largest factor, though, is vocalist Ellery Roberts, who’s husky and utterly unintelligable shrieks emit an air of mystery and unmistakable passion which characterises every second.
With such an emphasis on the sensory appeal, you would be forgiven for fearing that the songwriting here wouldn’t be up to scratch, but such assertions are emphatically rebuffed. There aren’t many instant hooks or solid formulas at hand, but that can’t stop the likes of L Y F, Such A Sad Puppy Dog and Concrete Gold from hitting hard, and they’re not even the highlights. In fact, this record’s best parts tend to be distinct moments rather than individual songs. The joyous jangling sections of We Bros, the mid-album knockout one-two punch of Spitting Blood and Dirt, and the seamless bridge between 14 Crowns For Me & Your Friends and closer Heavy Pop exemplify these sorts of instances, and perform the incredible feat of standing out on a record which more often than not borders on perfection.
That’s a pretty extreme accolade to bestow on a new and relatively unproven act that formed little over two years ago, but this debut offering is one which deserves every last word of praise that is thrown in it’s direction. Great albums grow in stature over time, but this is already sounding like a work of endearing brilliance capeable of siezing hearts and snatching breaths for the majority of it’s duration. Hype can be a major obstacle for fresh acts to overcome, but this record does so with incredible ease, not only justifying the claims but building an immense foundation around which the rest of their career can develop. Of course, it will also prove to be a benchmark against which all their future releases will be scrutinised, and whether they can maintain such standards is debateable. For now, though, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain is simply an exceptional debut which is already well on its way towards classic status in some quarters.