Cardiff’s Wylderness have been enjoying acclaim from Radio 1 (Huw Stephens) and Radio 6Music (Steve Lamacq) for their recent debut single ’72 & Sunny’ a Ride flavoured fuzz pop triumph which features on this, their debut album.
Continuing the line of second wave shoegazers such as Whirr and Nothing, their sound certainly has nods to that scene, but they manage to stamp their own personality on the record, employing an earthy, almost lo-fi take on the genre (can we call it lo-gaze?).
The album’s opener, ‘Broadcast’ begins tentatively, dipping its toe in before erupting into life, setting the scene perfectly for what follows. The vocals fly high, shining against the slightly muddier background, while the mysteriously named ‘YYAA’ (a rudimentary online search throws up Yorkville York Athletic Association in New York City, which indeed would be an unexpected subject for a Welsh shoegaze band), and it’s another winner, they certainly didn’t forget to pack the tunes.
The aforementioned ’72 & Sunny’ apparently explores the historical Welsh exodus to Patagonia, another subject pretty far from the beaten track when it comes to blissfully noisy pop songs, it has to be said. The actual lyrics, though, are not exactly apparent – in the same way that no-one could really quote lyrics from Loveless, its more about the feel and texture of the vocals than the words themselves. It’s not difficult to see why Huw and Steve jumped on the song for their respective radio shows.
Wylderness was recorded with Rory Atwell (Veronica Falls, Telegram, Palma Violets) in an actual boat; Light Ship 95 studios is permanently moored at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London. It’s not too apparent whether this influenced the sound of the record, but it’s true that sea shanties are at a premium in Wylderness-land.
New single ‘Peripheral Vision’ is (relatively) short and snappy with a great melody and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t follow it’s older brother onto the radio, but the true masterpiece of the album is the addictive ‘On A Dais’, a near six-minute epic which features a repetitive hook throughout and rumbles along, sounds ebbing and flowing, joining in and retreating. It’s not a traditional verse-chorus-verse type of song, but it perhaps shows a fascinating glimpse of where the band might go next, it’s all about the feel.
‘Death Valley Acid’ has a killer bass line and more space to breathe, shining guitar and the soaring vocal almost bring to mind The High, which may seem an odd comparison, but they were better than they were credited for at the atmospheric pop thing, while ‘Take This Gold’ is an upbeat closer which sees a lead guitar line tracing the vocal line exactly in the verse, and it works really nicely.
Wylderness shows a band of some considerable promise and if you like Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive then you could do a lot worse than shell out on a copy of this to tide you over for the likely 20 year wait for those artists’ new albums. Lo-gaze album of the year.
Wylderness is released on 23rd March by Succulent Recordings.