Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Dirt” by WU LYF from the 2011 album Go Tell Fire to the Mountain on LYF Records.
If WU LYF wasn’t so damn good, you could easily dismiss the purposefully enigmatic band as little more than a group of publicity seekers. Early on, the young Mancunians would change their name for each live show they played but eventually settled on an acronym taken from two of those names: WU LYF for “World Unite” and “Lucifer Youth Foundation.” Much of the press picked up on the band’s seemingly manufactured mystery — seeing as how they declined every interview asked of them and posted only cryptic descriptions of themselves like, “4 kids calling out heavy WU longings for a place to call home” — but on their website WU LYF seeks to be more, as “the initial hoodlum core offering open membership.” In fact, the offer to “join,” rather than buy into, WU LYF includes not only the “Heavy Pop/Concrete Gold” single on vinyl but also “a bandit flag of allegiance, a inked out statement of intent, discounted admission to all ‘PLAY HEAVY POP’ shows world wide and open armed involvement and a democratic input with all L Y F activity.” In effort to maintain “total creative self-sufficiency,” WU LYF has turned their movement into a manifesto rather than a Kickstarter campaign.
In their music WU LYF are just as simultaneously cryptic and transparent as they are in their marketing. Vocalist Ellery Roberts growls more than sings as he cuts and slurs each word so dramatically that you wonder if he’s singing in English at all. But lest you spend hours deciphering each song, WU LYF offers all of their lyrics on their website. Bassist Tom McClung, guitarist Evans Kati and drummer Joe Manning create a sound they call “heavy pop,” which recalls the melodic math rock of Foals at their most sonorous and at times the grand orchestration of Arcade Fire. Today’s featured song, “Dirt,” is an energetic anthem of youthful rebellion. Manning’s tribal beats at the opening lead to Roberts’ anarchistic proclamations — “Me and your friends/ we’ll run this town/ And keep on calling/ until it all falls down/ GO TELL FIRE” — but the song ultimately ends with a positive message of unification: “No don’t let go/ till you find a home/ World Unite and I’ll love you forever.” Whatever you take away for its meaning, it’s hard to deny the song’s earnest intensity.
WU LYF is making a quick trip to the U.S. this week, playing in NYC at the Mercury Lounge on Friday, July 22, and the Knitting Factory in NYC on Saturday, July 23, and then in LA at the Echo next Tuesday, July 26. If you’re in either city, you do not want to miss this chance. Unfortunately, there’s no Seattle date on the books for now, so we’ll have to wait for the revolution to spread. Until then, check out the band’s website and Facebook page for more songs and (mis)information. Here’s their video for “Dirt”: