Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It's been more than a week since the rumour mill went into overdrive, and still we're no nearer to any answers regarding WU LYF's future. The whole furore kicked off last Saturday when, out of the blue, the Mancunians uploaded a new song, "T R I U M P H" on YouTube. Waiting in the video's description was a typically cryptic message from frontman Ellery Roberts which, unintelligible though it was, seemed for all the world to signal his departure. "WU LYF is dead to me" he claimed. "There is nothing here that inspires/interests me beyond the emptiness for dreams.  By the time I wrote this I was all ready [sic] gone." The letter, particularly its deadpan tone, has led many to assume the band is indeed no more - although with no one available to comment and the original video now deleted the whole situation remains very much up in the air.

In a way, it's a farce in keeping with the quartet's entire existence, which right from the get go hinged on elements of obscurity and mystique. With only a concealed press-shot and a stash of abstract imagery to work with, critics instantly latched onto their initial 'anti-marketing' campaign, an approach which proved as successful as it was unorthodox in an age of no-holds-barred exposure. It was never going to last, of course - especially with a debut album and the inevitable backlash waiting in the wings - but even when laid bare before public and media alike the impact and resonance of their music stood completely unaffected.

Released in June last year amid a feverish backdrop of anticipation, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain was stunning, definitive confirmation that WU LYF were worth the hype. Although indie rock at heart, this was a record which instantly felt like so much more, with Roberts' swooning organ and utterly nonsensical vocals adding a surreal and borderline religious air to his companion's sublime jangling anthems. Some called it a gimmick, but that risked dismissing a bold and genuinely innovative sound which, while somewhat bizarre also housed enough warmth and grandeur to grant it an ethereal, life-defining edge. Magnificent in conception; colossal in execution, it remains my personal Album of the Decade to date, and now it appears to be their sole release will surely be remembered as a classic debut.

To truly appreciate WU LYF, however, one had to experience their genius in the live environment. I myself only managed to do so once, but it's no exaggeration to say that performance at Newcastle's Other Rooms on 17 October 2011 ranks among the most memorable I've ever witnessed. Roberts in particular stood out. Perched behind his organ, the quiffed protagonist cut a leader of true inescapable presence, belting out his words with a passion and vigour far removed from the wild, bedraggled animal portrayed on record. Free of overdub, his curiously soulful rasp added a new human dimension which onlookers couldn't help but respond to, with many grunting and bellowing along despite having no clue what he was actually saying. Four months after the LP's release, the outfit was already progressing at a frightening rate, and I for one couldn't wait to hear how it'd transpire on record. Alas, with the exception of
"T R I U M P H", it seems we'll never know.

So what now, assuming the group has called it quits? It may sound strange, but as an avid follower this swift, unceremonious demise doesn't actually fill me with too much grief. Dragged kicking and screaming into the public domain, they hardly resembled a model of solidarity - so the one document of sheer unequivocal brilliance they did produce could be seen as a miracle in itself. Forget the years of dashed potential; WU LYF were already a special, special band, and in burning out early have left a completely untarnished legacy for fans and future listeners alike. If nothing else, their sign-off was appropriately coined, for their brief four-year stint was a confusing, euphoric and honestly near-perfect accomplishment.

World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation: 2008-2012


You can hear T R I U M P H and read Ellery Roberts' message here.

Official website

1 comment:

  1. I only today learned about this now 4 month old story. After suffering thru reading too many harsh, loveless comments at BrooklynVegan's blog about WU LYF's demise, and feeling my soul hurt and aching for anyone who might understand how I feel about WU LYF, it helped enormously when, a bit desperately, I sought out another couple blogsites to see what there was to see and found this, your appreciation of the band and their accomplishments. As I read, I kept thinking "Yes", "Yes", "Yes" to myself. You provide a bandage when I needed one. I'll heal now. Well met. Thank you. - Bill Stella