Let's Wrestle - In the Court of the Wrestling Let's
It's really easy for a small and much-loved indie band to bungle their debut and lose what made them special in the first place. Include too many of the early singles and it’s a rip off for the fans who have followed them from the start; get the wrong producer and the magic created when the songs sounded like they were recorded in a garden shed is lost and it’s a one way ticket to the where-are-they-now? file.
For those of you for whom this is your first encounter with Let’s Wrestle they are a 3-piece from London named after the gloriously abstract David Shrigley book. Prior to this album they had 4 EPs to their name. Shall we meet them? They are: Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (vocals and guitar), Mike Lightning (bass and vocals) and Darkus Bishop (drums). Their first release - Song For Abba Tribute Record - in 2007 laid the foundations for their amateurish sound melded with charming lyrics that pricked-up several critics' ears.
In the Court of the Wrestling Lets is a debut album that delivers on the promises of these haphazard heroes' early releases. There are enough old favourites revisited and the new material ambles in a ramshackle fashion toward the magical city in the clouds occupied by The Silver Jews, The Fall and Ivor Culter. Wesley’s vocals are half spoken / half sung in a very deliberate and purposeful manner, layered over driving guitars with a sprinkling of jangly indie. Sporting a rhythm section made up of relentless drumming that channels the spirit of Mo Tucker and a bass that motivates your feet to move in line with the corners of your lips. 'I’m In Love With Destruction' or 'We Are The Men You’ll Grow Love Soon' demonstrate this staple Let’s Wrestle sound that works so well: lo-fi dynamics with a sense of humour (with the occasional use of handclaps for good measure.)
Make no mistake these are pop songs out and out - all around the three minute mark. The ethereal 'Dreams' with it’s sha-la-la backing vocals could be the Supremes after several pints and a sex change. 'Insects' continues the sleep theme with the more nightmarish prospect of said beasties coming up from inside the mattress to take over one’s brain. Other topics swing wildly in subject matter from Princess Diana’s hair to punching Johnny Borrell, showing a breadth of songwriting that is as refreshing as it is entertaining.
Not content to rest upon these lackadaisical laurels, the final track offers a new dimension and potential new direction for the band. It’s a psych-jam lasting just short of five minutes, guitars wail and drums drive forward like the Grateful Dead stoked on LSD and controls set for the heart of the sun. Like Hendrix’s 'Star Spangled Banner' recorded in a North London lockup, it’s simply fantastic and I hope it’s a sound they continue to explore.
All the songs here are clearly written from the heart about relationships, awkward situations and even the perils of the elderly with a sense of honesty and humor that never fails the raise a smile. Let's Wrestle manage to retain the DIY ethics of the early singles but grow into a album that doesn't become tiresome. It’s funny without being stupid and slapdash enough to annoy purists, neighbours and parents.