WU LYF become one of the first signpost bands of the Twenty-First Century. (Review) //
It’s impossible to review an album like Go Tell Fire To The Mountain without retreading the road that takes you there.
WU LYF (World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) are an incredibly young band from Manchester that have slowly but surely generated a level of hype and excitement that would crush the soul of mere mortals. This is the result of, and perhaps the need for, their mystique fueled existence. Only now, with the debut album on the cusp of release, have they revealed their identities publicly, cited their influences, and agreed to any sort of formal interview whatsoever.
For over a year, fans of the band have had to make do with mysterious and evocative imagery. Curiosity was solidified by WU LYF’s cult-like demeanour with stylised crosses, photographic collages and short, enigmatic proclamations of the quartet’s aesthetic manifesto. From £50 EPs that guaranteed you a place in their musical new world order to Myspace pages with no music players and hidden messages; WU LYF took the innate human desire to want what you can’t have, and to know the unknown, and used it to create an obsessive fan-base.
Whilst bands like Radiohead and even now Björk have moved online to promote new releases, they have always felt like artists keeping up with the times rather than the generation born within the movement themselves. For all the cryptic clues, alternate reality games and hidden USB drives Nine Inch Nails and Muse bestowed upon the world, the facade only extended as far as the latest album release cycle. These were artists that began in the old world way, with a major label signing and a four record contract.
Not so with WU LYF.
WU LYF are just kids, half of their number have yet to reach their 22nd birthday, and that places them firmly in Generation Y; which means they grew up with modern technology and this informs everything they do. With the fortunate backing of band manager Warren Bramley, a marketing head that could maximise their promotional potential; everything WU LYF created existed in congruency with the internet, and, more importantly, without any record label support. And this makes them one of the first, successful bands to do this in the Twenty-First Century. This is the beginning of the end, and it’s worth celebrating.
And this is all without even mentioning the music itself, which sounds dark and troubled, yet life-affirming and grandiose. Whether it’s the organ sounds, heaving weight and purpose atop the reverberating, succinct guitarwork and tribal percussion, or the gravelly yelps of frontman Ellery Roberts; WU LYF just sound so powerful and unique juxtaposed against any other band operating around them.
Early demos had alternate, ever shifting names, sampled the likes of Tupac Shakur, and were deliberately impossible to decipher at times. Track names like I Got Dem Wu Wu Busted Teef Spitting It Concrete Like The Golden Sun God or the self-proclaimed genre of Heavy Pop would come across as pretentious and forced from any other band, but with WU LYF’s humanistic worldview and uniting sound, you’d be missing the point by attacking the vehicle at the expense of the message.
All of this has culminated in the release of Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, a ten track LP that summarises the WU LYF experience perfectly.
The album opens with its first single, L Y F, which begins with the solitary organ that has come to define this young band’s iconic sound and swells into a rising celebration of love and youth, with the one of the album’s few discernible sing-a-long hooks; ‘I Love You Forever’.
From there it’s an unrelenting wall of sound and atmosphere, highlighted again by the esoteric vocal work and huge, volumetric tones.
Cave Song, (Which has been renamed and reworked, by my count; at least twice: Nic Cave > Lucifer Calling > Cave Song) and Such A Sad Puppy Dog (Sans 2Pac, replaced by drummerboy beats and sparse guitar) convey the band’s earlier sound of desperation and unnerving desire, yet fit perfectly with their current Hyper-Anthemic persona.
Each track, whether you’ve heard an earlier iteration or are experiencing it for the first time, feels raw and newborn. The percussion growls around you and the guitar echoes across cavernous locales conjured in your mind’s eye. Go Tell Fire… envelopes you, and you feel a part of the creation, witnessing the birth of a universe, personal yet all encompassing; just as the band intended.
Every song has two climaxes; the point where you bask in the statuesque grandeur knowing that this is the biggest sound you’re going to hear from a new band for a long time, and the moment just after that when the real crescendo starts and your expectations are shattered into a thousand pieces. We Bros is the undiluted form of this phenomenon, but it’s present throughout the whole production.
By limiting the album to just ten tracks, WU LYF have left only the highest common denominators, and at almost fifty minutes in length, you’re left with a feeling that it’s balanced exactly on the knifepoint between not enough and too much. Each song flows from its vanguard and to its successor creating a balance and polish that belies the band’s age.
When WU LYF are at their best, you’re struck by this surreal feeling of euphoria and possibility. Listening to the album closer, Heavy Pop, whilst viewing its (now absent) visual component on wulyf.org, was, and still is; a nigh spiritual event. It’s a humbling revelation to think that there’s hundreds, soon to be thousands, of others in the world feeling the exact same thing in the face of the first new band in a long time that has warranted genuine excitement as something to rally behind and celebrate.
WU LYF have crafted what will surely be looked back upon as one of the strongest debut releases of the modern musical era.
9 / 10
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