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If the impending rise of Brother marked the point where the hype machine jumped the shark in a style more accustomed to the impressive feats of Bob Beamon and Carl Lewis, the anti-hype stance of Manchester's WU LYF (an acronym for World Unite / Lucifer Youth Foundation allegedly) seems to have created an air of nonchalance if tonight's poor turnout is anything to go by. While Internet message boards and MP3 blogs have been awash with tales about the foursome's low-key activities for the past twelve months, their refusal to conform to media expectations and "play the game" as it were hasn't exactly got Nottingham's music lovers queuing around the block on this balmy Sunday evening. Indeed, DiS' request for an interview beforehand was politely turned down, as has been the case with every other publication since word spread about their existence, and if it weren't for the fact that what musical creations we have heard so far actually quite excite us, we'd probably be elsewhere enjoying the springtime sunshine too.
When those early demos of both the band's current and pre-WU LYF material as Vagina Wolf first appeared online it carried the same aura as the first time Hope Of The States 'Black Dollar Bills' blew everything else away in sight at the time, or the first two British Sea Power seven inches which went against the proverbial grain of the day and to an extent, still do. Sure, the whole mystique surrounding the band provokes both intrigue and annoyance, the latter purely borne out of frustration that while being virtually impossible to purchase any product recorded or otherwise, there is a nagging feeling that maybe WU LYF carry an arrogant demeanour implying they're better than the mere subordinates at their shows (something our brief encounter with singer Ellery Roberts completely dispels).
The show itself veers from the ridiculous to being downright compelling, Roberts' throaty vocal proving a distinctive focal point throughout. Operating without a set list ("We just make it up as we go along" he assures us afterwards), the recognisable strains of 'Nic Cave' and 'Such A Sad Puppy Dog' propel the first half of their performance to glorious heights, the latter in particular conjuring up memories of the aforementioned HoTS due to its building intensity. Meanwhile, 'Summer's Bliss' and 'Heavy Pop' both resonate with a ferocity that's split in half by guitar lines borrowed off The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend respectively. It's an odd combination of sorts and one that while ensuring comparisons arise at irregular intervals, also displays an unmistakable originality whereby WU LYF truly sound like no one else either, for all their influences and inspirations.
Towards the end of the show, those that have bothered to turn up create a heaving mass of sweat and on stage all four band members shirts come off before collapsing in a writhing pile-up at the end. While it's still only early days in the WU LYF story - if there is one at this present moment in time - the impending arrival of debut long player Go Tell Fire To The Mountain in June could be the catalyst that ignites the flames for those still a little unconvinced by the too-cool-for-school non-conformism. However, we'll leave the final word to Ellery Roberts, who when asked - completely off the record of course - after the show why his band had made a point of shunning all media attention, simply remarked "We let our music do the talking", and on tonight's captivating performance, maybe he does have a point after all.
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