WU LYF (World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation) is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Go Tell Fire To The Mountain is the first album from the famously secretive band of mischievous Manchester boys who are as famous for messing with the press as they are for their music. WU LYF self-produced the record in an abandoned church, and the result sounds like four talented but feral boys channelling their subconscious minds inside a cave.
The music is lovely. Sweet, swirling indie sounds that veer from soft and subtle to rabble rousing. It is the voice of singer Ellery Roberts that gives this band its unique sound. Roberts has a voice that could be described as a Homo Antecessor howling at the moon, a possum clinging to life after being run over by a car, or Tom Hanks in Castaway as Wilson bobs out of his grasp. These unintelligible, scratchy groans are apparently grunted along to at live shows. (A cheat’s guide to singing along: recurring words are ‘crown’, ‘baby’, ‘father’, ‘gold’, ‘money’, ‘blood’, ‘animals’ and ‘home’).
Subtle religious tones also run through the album – from the band’s name, to the choice of recording studio, to the use of the church organ, and to the repeated references to gods in the lyrics and liner notes. Whether WU LYF are referring to the Christian God or to some unique deity of their own is characteristically unclear.
The church organ quietly opens the album. Atmospheric drums join in, and suddenly a bestial moaning begins – and then Roberts is off, like a cave man on a mission. “I love you forever” are the only decipherable words on the first track, and they are repeated over and over again like a mantra. On next track Cave Song Roberts sounds like a homeless man on the streets of Paris. “Ma bleu ron” (translation: now the blood runs out) he mutters, over guitars that chime like bells. On Such as Sad Puppy Dog Roberts tells the story of an incarcerated brother over a softly humming organ. This modern power ballad is to WU LYF what November Rain was to Guns n’ Roses. The extended outro leads into Summas Bliss, a song that reveals one of the obsessions of this band – feeling dislocated from the grown-up world, as though humans would be better off living in the wild (in fact listening the animalistic vocals it’s a wonder Roberts isn’t living in the wild). This theme is continued with We Bros, where Roberts snorts “we were born as animals and we bros, but you put suits on animals”, and on the catchy Spitting Blood (“so let’s just keep eating more, more, more, more and more, and then maybe we’ll go throw up on the poor”) and Dirt (“dollar is not your friend”). Dirt also boasts a stirring drum intro and some angelic backing vocals nicely at odds with Roberts’ snarl. 14 Crowns For Me & Your Friends is another power ballad for the new generation. Think Every Rose Has It’s Thorn sung by David Hasselhoff while eating that burger and you’ll get the idea.
Trying to figure out the words becomes be a little tiresome, and if you’re a fan you won’t regret investing in a physical copy of this album which includes the lyrics, as well as ingenious artwork by Roberts. There is a lot of existential angst on this album, but set against a background of dreamy guitars, precise drums and a whole lot of natural reverb, Roberts’ muppet-like vocals and yearning lyrics are something special.
Kathryn van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.com
Click here to listen to Spitting Blood from Go Tell Fire To The Mountain: