WU LYF – The Bowery Ballroom – April 27, 2012
WU LYF is tough to describe to those unfamiliar. The name, which brings up associations to the Wu-Tang Clan, is actually an acronym for World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation. But the group is neither a rap collective nor a Norwegian black-metal band, just four guys from Manchester, England, self-described as “four dumb kids calling out heavy longings for a place to call home, two brothers greet two brothers and play heavy pop.”
Playing The Bowery Ballroom at the tail end of their tour, the band’s lead singer, Ellery Roberts, told the audience that he was losing his voice. Assuming that was true, it was hard to tell given that raspy guttural growls are his signature vocal style. WU LYF’s sound oftentimes deals in odd pairings, whether its Roberts snarling shouts against the backdrop of surf-guitar riffs on “Spitting Blood,” or drummer Joe Manning’s machine-gun snare drum breaking through the churchy atmosphere of organs at the end of “Summas Bliss.” As individual parts, they are elements you’d find in countless other bands around right now, but as a collective whole, it all sounds boldly unique.
Mid-set, “Dirt” was a high point. It began with several measures of tribal drum patterns followed by ghostly background harmonies sounding somewhere between sirens and a pack of howling wolves. The song built in volume and intensity before disintegrating into chants of “World unite, love you forever” and a few final drum hits that resonated through the venue like the echoes of a closing door. The band made several ominous mentions about their future throughout the show. “This is our last New York show for some time,” said guitarist Evans Kati. Let’s hope it means they have to record another album, not that this is it for WU LYF. —Dan Rickershauser