LETS-WRESTLE-NURSING-HOME

London trio Let’s Wrestle always wanted to be Hüsker Dü (they even had a song telling us so) but the idea of them actually putting out more than a couple of 7-inch singles always seemed far fetched. ‘Nursing Home’ is their second album. It was produced by Steve Albini in Chicago. Consider yourself told!

What got the legendary Nirvana and Pixies engineer involved with this group of punk dossers is no doubt the very same thing that has steadily fuelled Let’s Wrestle since they formed in a garden shed in 2005 – their impressive knack for writing naggingly catchy songs that remain resolutely indie and wittier than Stephen Fry Night on DAVE. None of that’s changed (singer Wesley Gonzalez asks “Aren’t you a bit wrinkled to be a nymphomaniac?” on ‘Bad Mamories’, while the opening ‘In Dreams (part 2)’ lends itself perfectly to lyrics of punching a Pokemon and copping off with Queen Victoria), it just got a hell of a lot louder.

Volume is an easy fix though, and beneath that loud grungy fuzz you can tell that something else has changed. Gonzalez has become a better lead guitarist, for a start. ‘Dear John’ illustrates it best – even the childish refrain, “You look like a crooked sparrow” can’t pull focus from the pro squeals that bridge one cuss to the next.

At times (like through ‘There’s a Rockstar in My Room’) the singer forces out a gruff growl rather than his usual, dopey half speak too, and everything has a definite gloss that debut album ‘In The Court of The Wrestling Let’s’ was without. So there’s a handful of progressive modifications here, even if the band’s constant daftness does a pretty good job of masking them, making ‘Nursing Home’ sound like another Let’s Wrestle album of put downs, uninterested girls and wild dreams.

Where it leaps away from the band’s previous work is in its willingness to occasionally slow down and say something quite touching, like on ‘For My Mother’ – a track through which Gonzalez lists things he’ll do to look after his grieving mum, with a guitar set to ‘clean’, distant drums and the simplest of basslines. The piano-led ‘I Am Useful’ is even sadder; desperate and insistent like only a song of unrequited love can be. ‘Getting Rest’ – the album’s closing track – is the band’s most delicate song yet, too caught up in its own wistful melancholy for its instruments to be raised above a tickled hush.

It’s an extremely important step in Let’s Wrestle’s evolution: being confident enough to let it all out instead of hiding behind nob gags and fuzz-tone.  And while the title ‘Nursing Home’ suggests silly irony from a band so young, there’s no doubt that they’re growing up fast. It’s documented here in these ‘serious’ songs. They are, of course, still outnumbered by the crass and dumb and unapologetically youthful, but they are here nonetheless, and album number three could very easily be full of poignant ballads; another page from a maturing man’s diary. And if that turns out to be the case, it’ll be hard to not be impressed again.

Next Album »