Let The Man Speak
, August 16th, 2012 08:02
It's a disconcerting thought that true originality in guitar-anchored music is now a translucent ideal. Close enough still in some of our memories to remember the taste of British psychedelia breaking upon the shores of America, or the first snap of Tommy Verlaine's guitar string as punk began to embrace pure artistry. Yet out to drift we are - in 2012 - forced to realise that Black Sabbath have already played every riff front-ways, back-ways, through the 7th dimension and back again. We are faced with the stark truth that almost all cross pollinations of sound have been explored. Revival is now reinvention.
Sheffield's own Wooderson strike me as a group of four fairly analytical minds, whose combined effort of winningly melodious yet frenetic musicianship on debut LP Let The Man Speak has bisected the opposing waves of late 70s post punk and late 80s post hardcore to land them, somewhat ironically, in the mid 90s.
The opener 'Deluxe' ducks and weaves with the same pep and punch of Austin's And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead but in a neater fashion, angular and cogent, fully suspended in each rolling moment.
A heavy Jawbox flavour washes over proceedings and it at first seems as if everything is going to descend into slow-burning pensiveness. But no! Sparks of Cap 'n Jazz danceability seep into of 'Sleepwalking', a robust number that melds paranoia with bursting catharsis to produce something slightly shy of anthemic. The shallower, noodling breaks of noise apparent on 'Cardinal,' 'Mint Condition,' and 'Buffalo Jump' are often close to textures employed by In On The Kill Taker era Fugazi; chiming, sophisticated and serious.
The band utter the high-hallowed name of Dischord Records as a main influence, yet that jumping off point of Fugazi or Gray Matter is smothered by a thick layer of clinical production and hi-fidelity. You can't help but wonder if the sheeny vocals and fuzz-less guitars were wielded in a rawer manner, on tracks such as 'Mint Condition', would the record feel more lethal? More formidable?
This debut is the culmination of a thousand night's listening and research - heads banging against bedroom walls to the sound of midwest America - and a DIY ethos that just won't quit. The guitar penmanship, coupled with the savagely attentive drumming give this record a strong sense of tethered energy. There's no denying the aggression, even if it is muffled slightly by the band's faith in efficiency.
Wooderson sound like an outfit that have weaned themselves on 'real' punk their whole lives, but their instrumental abilities have pushed them farther than the limits of three-chord musical hopscotch, into almost math-y, complex territories. Reviving twenty-year-aged recordings of emotion and plying those template with the advances of today have helped coagulate something sharper, more refined than many of their influences would have been able to develop themselves. Sheffield's post- 'something' sons have proved convincingly that there's nothing wrong with looking back through the glass to find what's ahead.