While it’d be wrong to suggest that Foals are alone in being responsible for the spread of bands across the UK that play their guitars in… that… fractured and dancey… fashion all of the time, there’s no doubt that the success of their album Antidotes has rather opened the floodgates. Wintermute, a four-piece from Leeds, echo the Oxford quintet’s staccato stylings, adding little to a tried-and-tested formula.
That doesn’t mean Fun With Wizard Stencils is without its merits, though, as one man’s Foals is surely another’s Futureheads, and so it proves as the band also do a good job of channelling the poppier end of the Sunderland quartet’s spectrum via six tracks of punchy, melodically sound indie-rock that’s perfectly in tune with the Here and Now. Vocals are delivered with a yelped desperation, as if that little red light indicating the tape’s rolling is also a button to end the world with. Six seconds from now. Sing like you mean it, son.
‘Dead Or Not He Was Wearing Sunglasses’ is the most ambitious of these six tracks, all stop-start of arrangement and impassioned of performance; offerings elsewhere may demonstrate greater technical prowess – the following ‘Spanish Girls’ for example, which features fingers-on-fret work to tick the boxes of math-rock acolytes – but this standout rings with an instant-fix accessibility that its surrounding pieces struggle to deliver. ‘Emerald Hill Zone Act 2’ – yes, a reference to Sonic The Hedgehog, like there aren’t enough of those in vaguely post-whatever music nowadays – is too whiney to translate as endearing, and ‘Jambon! Jambon!’ brings proceedings to a close with little left in the tank to drive the band’s point home.
And the point of the band is… To mirror what their target audience is well accustomed to and exploit the subsequent possibilities and opportunities. There’s no shame in playing second-fiddle in a style not at all of your own making, for now, as days are early for Wintermute. But come their album proper, let’s home they’re showcasing a voice of their own rather than mimicking their influences quite so accurately.
6Ed Graves's Score