Let's Wrestle - Let's Wrestle (**)
After two full doses of rewardingly ramshackle indie-rock (2009’s In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s and 2011’s Nursing Home), Let’s Wrestle’s self-titled third album sees the band tuck in their shirts and leave dishevelled adolescence behind them. The transformation is pronounced, with the scruffy guitars of yore given a jingle-jangle refit and horns and strings creating a notably fuller, richer sound. But while the results are unerringly pleasant, if feels as if too many of the band’s youthful assets have ended up jettisoned or muted in the name of maturation.
One thing Wesley Patrick Gonzalez and his cohorts haven’t misplaced is their knack for crafting catchy hooks, and tracks like Rain Ruins Revolution and Pull Through For You (featuring Veronica Falls’ Roxanne Clifford) are effective examples of the band’s sonic facelift. But the likes of Care For You’s B-list Britpop let the side down, rendering Let’s Wrestle uncharacteristically underwhelming.
Keel Her - Keel Her (****)
While this self-titled collection is officially Keel Her’s debut album, Rose Keeler-Schäffeler is no debutant. Since 2011, the Brighton-based songwriter has shared songs online seemingly as fast as she can finish them – faster, in fact, with myriad works-in-progress amongst the EPs and so forth. Her DIY inventiveness has already won admiration from kindred spirit R. Stevie Moore (amongst others), and for those who haven’t been following her evolution in real-time, these 18-tracks present the perfect entry point.
Underwritten by an inherent understanding that lo-fi needn’t be limiting, Keel Her never deigns to settle on single, clear style. Reflecting its creator’s raw curiosity, the album’s free-roaming aesthetic ventures from the scratchy post-punk of Go to the dense synth swirls of In My Head; the piercing fuzz-pop of Riot Grrl to the echo chamber fog of Pussywhipped. And best of all, should this economical taster menu appeal, there’s a buffet-load more where it came from.
Tomorrow We Sail - For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight (***)
Gizeh Records is a paragon of consistency, not only in terms of the quality of its output but in the overlaps and similarities between those on its roster. With post-rock, slowcore and neoclassical the key genres shaping For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight, it’s fair to say that Tomorrow We Sail are a comfortable fit for the Manchester label – perhaps even too comfortable, since there’s little here that admirers of these gentle arts won’t have heard in some form before.
Yet, demonstrating that familiarity need not breed contempt, the Leeds 7-piece trigger shivers at all the right moments, crafting heavenly symphonies by turns sombre and soaring. It’s taken them five years to get to this debut, and their unhurried diligence is reflected in the careful precision of every slicing violin, solemn vocal and bristling crescendo, and while it may not break new ground, it treads the already turned earth with exceptional grace.