Let’s Wrestle – Nursing Home

January 01, 1970

(Merge)

 

www.mergerecords.com

 

Last
year when a Merge album discussed the Suburbs, it was a grandiose rumination on
lost youth, identity and not losing sight of your roots – or thoughts to that
effect. Things are a little different in 2011. Let’s Wrestle hail from London so maybe their take
on the ‘burbs should be expected to differ quite a bit from the Arcade Fire.
Their “In the Suburbs” sings, in roaring split-octave harmony, about the
glories of having dinner with Mum, playing computer games ’till bedtime and how
things haven’t changed in years. “All I’ll ever worry about is feelin’ outta
sight/ I feel so safe here,” croons guitarist Wesley Patrick Gonzalez. Maybe
it’s Brit sarcasm. After all the song opens with, “I’m traveling away from
myself/ but I know I’m far from home.” But ultimately, it sounds like Gonzalez
didn’t worry about much more than trying to sound lighthearted.

 

That
makes Let’s Wrestle’s second album stumble in execution, at least early on.
They have a great m.o.: trebly guitars with heavy distortion (after all this was recorded by Steve Albini); those
wailed harmonies; 12 songs in just over 30 minutes. It recalls the heyday of
the Wedding Present, with a little bit of Nothing Painted Blue mixed in. Except
NPB’s Franklin Bruno would develop a song called “There’s a Rockstar In My
Room” into more of a story instead of relying on the title in hopes of some
snicker.

 

But in
the final lap, things start to shift. “I Am Useful” slows down and sets a great
scene for a post-break-up pep talk, with a piano driving the song’s
self-motivated message (“I’m going to put an English face on it.”). In “I Will
Not Give In” the protagonist makes this pledge while abstaining from the
temptation of drug use then, a verse later, when refusing to accept defeat in an arm wrestling match, a pair of non sequiturs that would
make Bruno chuckle. Closing out the album, the acoustic guitar/Farfisa-based
“Getting Rest” acts as the type of closer that encourages you to reexamine the
album, wondering if they’re a little deeper than initially anticipated.

 

Not
exactly, but they’ve got it in them.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Dear John,” “I Will
Not Give In.” MIKE
SHANLEY

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