The drummer is a punk (in the old fashioned way: bondage strides, leather jacket and short Mohican). The bass player is a dandy with big shades and extravagant hand gestures. The singer/guitarist doesn’t really exist in the world at all until standing on a stage, where he becomes utterly compelling – this year’s unlikeliest pop star. When they are all together, as with all the best groups, the sum of the parts is near perfect. I love this group.
The press release for this, their debut album, mentions the influence of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Syd Barrett; also that it is a punk rock record. All true enough, but throw in The Fall, Pavement (had Steven Malkmus gone to school in North London with Lawrence from Felt living in his attic, as did LW singer Wes), Buzzcocks and a Grange Hill-esque take on the Shangri-Las (complete with “bah-bahs” and hand claps) and you’re getting there. Impressive influences for any band, let alone a trio of callow 18 year-olds.
‘I Won’t Lie To You’ is the most immediate of the sixteen-track album’s many standout essays. On first listen you think that Mark E Smith has counted them in before the buzzsaw guitars and cracked falsetto kneecap you, the vocal stuttering: “The duvet’s on fire and so is your hair / But darling that’s the way it is”. Later on there is a song about Princess Diana’s coiffure and one titled, brazenly but not inaccurately, ‘We Are The Men You Will Grow To Love Soon’. It’s perhaps the art pop statement of the year. Sample lyric “We’re going down the job centre / And soon we’ll come out with a job”, which later evolves into, “We got enough money to buy some G&Ts for the girls / We are the men you’ll grow to love soon”. And so it continues; cracked, skewed, hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking. You won’t hear more original songwriting this year.
There is nothing flimsy or whimsical about this group; behind the awkward adolescence, shambling intros and pathological lies is a steely-eyed determination to succeed. If there is any justice in the world, the powers that be will resurrect Top of the Pops just so Let’s Wrestle can be the opening band on the comeback show. BBC endorsements notwithstanding, these really are the men you will grow to love soon.