Album Review: The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader

By on Monday, 25th August 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Sitting in a bizarre juxtaposition to early Black Sabbath and the Indian subcontinent are The Wytches. It’s an odd place to be, but this three-piece are relishing the company – not in the way Bombay Bicycle Club did, mind – but more in a “look, here’s a snake charmer, OK? We’re done now, let’s melt your face off” kind of way.

‘Annabel Dream Reader’ is the band’s debut album and from the start, it grabs your attention with its ambition. We’ve got a vocalist in Kristian Bell who’s a mix between Eoin Loveless at his most lyrically scathing and Steven Ansell at his most lovelorn, spinning guttural, powerful yarns about his dejected heart-broken existence. Song number two ‘Wide at Midnight’ introduces you to the underlying concept of the record, dejection. Prior to that and almost through the entire first half of the record you’re transported to a grungy Mumbai market, as a snake-charming tune underlies the melody.

‘Fragile Male for Sale’ is a plundering tub-thumper of a track with some thudding, juddering drum pelts and a booming bass line. The entire record reeks of this DIY nu-grunge revolution that seems to be gathering force under the banner of bands like Drenge, Slaves and, to a lesser extent, Royal Blood. I’m steering away from the term Great British Guitar Band Revolution, because firstly it doesn’t fucking exist and secondly because it’s a figment of NME’s imagination.

The Wytches are most definitely the new poster boys then, as they tick all the right boxes in their debut outing. I mean, even in their promo shot they look effortlessly cool, whilst still managing to pull of the faux-grunge look by having questionable hair styles. The record spins between remarkably heavy going, in both melody and prose: Dan Rumsey and Gianni Honey are an indomitable engine room behind the musings of Kell. Some of the heavier tracks almost merge into the territory of doom rock; however, the subject matter veers away from the bloody and dismembered, which I’d most certainly count as a positive development.

If you’re a guitar purist, you may be perturbed by the sheer quantity of reverb on most of the songs. But if you like your riffs unrefined and dirty as the floor of your car, then ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ is the place for you. There are hints of The Melvins and The Scientists, in their noise-punky sound, but it’s got a far more 21st century edge, the kind which will undoubtedly see them compared to Nirvana.

As frontmen of this nu-grunge revolution, this Brighton born triumvirate will be waving their tricolore abroad as they are one of the chosen few bands, alongside acts like The Wombats, Dry the River, Fenech-Soler, Hadouken, Imogen Heap and Waylayers, in receipt of a share of £1,750,000 over the next two years. Why you ask? So the UK government can encourage them to promote their music around the world as part of the Music Export Growth Scheme.

With the 47-minute belter that ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ is in The Wytches arsenal, I doubt audiences in America and afar will struggle to become as enamoured with the band as I have. The record is effortlessly powerful and manages to show a real heart in ‘Summer Again’ and ‘Weights and Ties’, showing that the boys can play it tough, but can also connect with an audience through some overwhelmingly powerful narratives.

Viva La Revolution, then?

9/10

The Wytches‘ debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ is out today on Heavenly Recordings. Catch the band live as they traverse the UK in the last 3 months of 2014; all their touring plans are here.

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