A pair of plain recycled cardboard CD sleeves popped through my letterbox, and if I hadn’t already known who Wu Lyf were, I wouldn’t have found out much more on the internet. Especially before the release of Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, their marketing strategy was to hide behind a bizarre mix of imagery and obtuse snippets of text and never-to-give interviews.
Ignoring the fact that it is all a co-ordinated marketing ploy and that the name “World Unite – Lucifer Youth Foundation” [WU LYF for short] sounds like something scrawled on a school folder by a 15 year old, the main thing about being anonymous is that you want the music to speak for itself. That’s something I can really get behind. I admire the desire to shun modern-day celebrity culture – the desire to keep yourself to yourself, and to be judged on your material – but the problem with Wu Lyf is that all the anonymity comes along with a huge dollop of meaningless bullshit (see their website http://www.wulyf.org/) which really gets in the way. And worst of all is the fact that the music doesn’t match up to the hype. Nowhere near.
DIRT establishes Wu Lyf as another band who love to sound like they’re playing in a cathedral – right down to the church organ. The track starts with a drum solo that gets the blood pumping, but the musicianship is sloppy – here and on the guitar parts at the end of the track. The simplicity and lack of variety in the parts makes for a lot of jarring, especially between the bass and the organ. It sounds like the band is focussed more on their own playing than what the rest of the band are doing. With the repetitive bass lines, hooks, and the uplifting organ sounds, my guess is that there is a lot of influence here from the world of dance music, but the ‘punk’ sort of approach to the music, with little, if any focus on the musicianship of it all, leaves it sounding a bit flat, and lacking the energy of a real dance track.
The vocals are a let-down too; turning what otherwise could be an atmospheric, emotional track into a bit of a shout-fest, with a painfully affected vocal style, and a lack of discernible lyrics. They don’t sound particularly ‘Manchester’ either, but I’m not someone who holds that being from the North means that you have to sing like either Morrisey or Mark E. Smith.
LYF again makes heavy use of the church organ and the epic intro (almost a third of the song). I’m quite a fan of this kind of melodic bass playing. I think it adds a lot to a band with minimal guitars, and also gives another option to broaden the range of sounds that a band can offer. Again, it jars at several points, but definitely keeps the music ticking over.
The vocals are drowned in effects, and again, the lyrics are hard to make out, but the themes are simple in both songs – frustration with life and obscure allusions to revolutionary themes and anti-capitalist ideas, without actually saying anything. The stand-out lyric (in both songs) is the extremely original sentiment “Love you forever” – but that’s Wu Lyf…
Considering they made a publicity ploy out of being anonymous, it’s quite a co-incidence that the music is just that too – anonymous. Whether Wu Lyf achieves their aim of becoming ‘a movement’ rather than ‘just a band’ remains to be seen – but if it does happen, it will be on the strength of their marketing, and not their music.