Wu Lyf (World Unite -Lucifer Youth Foundation; but you will know that already for sure…) feel like a bundle of contradictions. Determinedly ‘other’, mysterious and ‘apart’ but at the same time the nagging feeling that you may have been this way before – if not for the music, then for the attitude and home-spun philosophy.
Not for them hooking up with a major label (or a minor one for that) despite the encouragements, but output on their own channel. Nor either a slew of gigs to warm people up and get their name out there, but a few shows here and there purposefully hard to find and access. Despite this ‘doing it our own way’ thing, the War God referenced on the sleeve of Go Tell Fire to the Mountains, refers to Warren Bramley, he of creative agency four23 ( Reebok, Adidas etc). Not that its a crime but, despite their urban youth movement stuff, they have rather conventional backgrounds; so perhaps this is all about taking a chance to reinvent themselves or maybe it is an echo of KLF stylee – a suggestion they dismiss.
Well whatever is behind all these efforts to be mysterious and anonymous (something which might pall and bite them on the arse later perhaps?) it’s the music that makes or breaks it – shame or shamen.
Members, Evans Kati, Joe Manning, Ellery Roberts, Tom McClung, show their attractions to the music and philosophical influences of the likes of Black Flag, Minutmen, and Fugazi. Despite the hype , real or imagined, there is something energising and exciting about this debut album. The opening chords on the church organ begin a running motif throughout – the semi religious, not just in the musical references but the imagery of crosses, crowns, fire and mountains. This retro-conventional referencing contrasts with the faux (?) youth-speak of the track titles – Summas,We Bros etc.
That all sounds rather negative reading it back which wasn’t really intended but does throw up the duality of my reactions to the album and it’s presentation.
On the one hand I can’t quite accept that the posturing, mysteriously anonymous styling isn’t just that, styling, designed to try and carve out a niche in an overcrowded market. But on the other hand I can’t ignore quality of the music here, the sense of urgency through it, a degree of freshness so sadly lacking in many quarters. True the lupine howl that is the vocal delivery can become wearing in it’s incomprehensibility but the fluidity of the guitar and the propulsive drumming both point to a level of musicianship not to be easily ignored for so young a band.
Throughout this web of intrigue or fog of deception cuts the fact that here we have some fine pop music, see Spitting Blood, Dirt. Their few shows to date have the reputation of ‘an event’ and so the chance to see them ought not be missed and indeed I will be trotting down go the inestimable Thekla on 25th October to grab a slice of the next big thing or KLF for a new generation (or possibly both)
Wu Lyf – Dirt