Das Wanderlust - Horses For Courses
Owain Paciuszko 10/07/2009
Long delayed debut LP from wonky pop outfit Das Wanderlust is a delicious broth of imagination and ludicrously catchy indie nonsense.
Opener Pyramintro may almost worry long time Wanderlust fans, as it sounds like the band are going to abandon the manic, erratic sound of the past in favour of something a bit more straightforward, but, fortunately once Laura Susan Simmons familiarly wry vocals start up we're on good old rickety ground. Some may find the Das Wanderlust sound jarring, but this is - kind of like Micachu by way of Art Brut - pop gone wrong in the best possible way.
Puzzle has a flavour of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs and, in all honesty, Simmons is as beguiling and charismatic a vocalist as Karen Oh except with the distinctive whiff of the Midlands. We're All Doomed keeps the pace moving thick and fast with its infectious refrain of 'Oh sometimes, I forget that we're all doomed'. Andrew Richard Elliott's guitar is in full, spiky force, hammering ahead like The Jam played at the wrong speed and Wesley John Stephenson's drums clatter with so much energy that you can feel the sweat spitting out your speakers.
Seashanty is a slower number, with a plodding drum beat and video-game keys, before lurching into a creepy-crawly indie swagger, somewhere between fairy tales and rock-and-roll. Perception is a Funny Thing flips and flops with schizoid abandon between post-punk rants to softer clarinet backed segments, though for all its anarchic anti-structure verve doesn't really work. Turn To Grey meanwhile has a chirpy piano line that contrasts neatly with Simmons seemingly happy sounding vocal as she deliriously coos 'Focusing so much on going to sleep makes you awake.'
Sherlock Holmes is Better Than You matches its brilliant title by being a growling, menacing and then hyperactive track which lurches from Sonic Youth-like verses into manic, day-glo choruses with Simmons scatting and the rest of the instrumentation building into a ear-bending cacophony of wild sound.
'I'm jealous of those people who are better at things than me.' is the first line of the suitably menacing sounding Celebrate Ourselves, which, like the previous track Where Nobody Knows Your Name encapsulates the darker side of this record. All stacatto stabs at the guitar and drums bashed like the impending arrival of some distant army, with Simmons vocals seeming stream-of-consciously improvised over the top and auto-biographical in a bitterly nostaglic fashion.
Final track Wish I Was A Robot is almost as conventional as the band get, coming close to sounding like Blur's Lot 105 with sneery vocals and 'La la lalala la la' sing-a-longs. It's a slight finale to a strange, confuddling and fun record that is a high-water mark for the ramshackle DIY sound, or, wrong-pop as it's sometimes known. But there's not much wrong with this album.