July Music Review – Horrors, Cashier No 9 and WU LYF

Not a huge number of big releases this month, but one stand-out album. The Horrors must have developed more quickly and more unexpectedly than any other UK band of the last 5 years at least. After their first album, Strange House, a gothic / rockabilly concoction that signalled “one-album wonder” loud and clear, they came back in 2009 with the Mercury-nominated Primary Colours. Dark, sombre indie / heavy rock, interesting and complex. Now they’ve surpassed that with Skying, their third album. It’s not exactly easy listening, it’s still a dense and layered rock sound, but it has tunes, and hooks that grab you, while maintaining the variety and musical interest. Whisper it, but it even sounds a bit like 1980’s Simple Minds or U2 in places...

Still Life, the first single, is a hypnotic and immediate slab of mid-paced synth rock that sounds custom built for the headline set at Glastonbury, 2013. (Echoes of “Don’t you forget about me” to my ears). And don’t be surprised if they are that big in a couple of year’s time. Endless Blue starts as an MOR lift music instrumental ballad (very nice it is too), then half way through morphs into a Foo Fighters / QOTSA type rock-out. Excellent stuff. We saw the Horrors 4 years ago hanging around having a smoke outside the Cambridge Corn Exchange on a break from their sound check. They looked like lost boys, very young, the palest, thinnest and most archetypically “goth” kids I have ever seen in my life. They’re not so lost now – this is a mature and brilliant rock album. 9/10

Cashier No. 9 with To the death of fun have made a rather lovely, tuneful, mainly acoustic guitar driven pop, recalling at times classic 60s Beatles type pop, with hints of 80s bands like Echo and the Bunnymen or James, then shifting to a more contemporary “clever AOR” classification (Elbow or Cherry Ghost). It avoids any hint of tweeness despite its essential accessibility, with enough of an edge and the odd lead guitar solo to make it attractive to current indie kids as well as their parents. It’s just really difficult for guitar bands to break through at the moment; otherwise you might predict great things for them. 8/10

Is this the radical, angry band / album I’ve been waiting for? Maybe not, but there’s something very interesting here. Go tell fire to the mountain is the first album from WU LYF which apparently stands for "World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation". They’re a Manchester band who have deliberately cultivated a low and mysterious profile (if that’s not a contradiction in terms..) But there’s nothing low profile about their debut, which is hard to categorise but often enthralling. At times Sonic Youth or Pixies-like, then switching to something resembling the Doves in a particularly bad mood (the lead singer sounds like he has a VERY sore throat – he's half way towards "screamo"), and with an intriguing bit of Sigur Ros type beauty shining through at times... It’s a confident set of slightly warped, indie-dance-rock-experimental songs, with the odd decidedly weird slower number. One of the UK debuts of the year, without a doubt. 8.5/10



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First Voice

  1. Adam:

    If you get the chance to See WU LYF live Peter, take it. The album pales in comparision to their gigs, incredible performers.

    Glad to see you enjoyed Cashier No.9 as well.

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