click here for more
Album Review

by Wilberforces


Review Date
9th September 2009
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

I believe that every five years or so this country has a tendency to throw up cycles of really good bands and really bad ones too. The last cycle of brilliant little talented groups was an era of the onset of Die! Die! Die!, Malenky Robot, Yokel Ono, the Vacants and their ilk - a time that has for the most part died out except for a few exceptions.

Over the last year or so I've noticed another group of musicians emerging to pick up the mantle of good bands; to put on the boots with which to stomp on the bad bands. These include within the ebbs and flows of it all Surf City, Rifles, the Sharpie Crows, Dear Times Waste, the Damsels, Street Chant, Diamonds and Dirt, Street Beat, Vietnam War... the list goes on. But one band in particular has stood out - the Wilberforces.

Now, it would be fairly easy to launch into an extended metaphor about Maurice Gee and Under the Mountain and worm-like alien creatures and volcanoes and whatever so I'll try and stay away from that. Following the Tidal Waves 7-inch released earlier this year, the appearance of Haunted was a much anticipated event by many spread far and wide across the country. The album doesn't just reflect the dozens of shows that the band worked long and hard to put on around the country, but in many ways also represents the collective experience of what they've been able to do and who they've been able to mix with during their time on the stage.

There's a bunch of Flying Nun band comparisons and comments on how the Wilberforces are inspired by the Clean that can be said, and those comments certainly hold water. But there's also a dirtier element amongst the method to their music: a reliance on bizarre effects, keyboard values and gravely-coordinated vocals combine to reap much benefit for a band that while a bit weird is necessarily eerie and lucidly coordinated in their delivery.

Tracks like (the obvious) Tidal Waves and the b-Net station favourite My Mind Is In My Paws are simply incredible pop-rock-fuzz-bop tracks, as well as the other stand out song of the album, Sirens.

Many have said the Wilberforces couldn't work as well on tape as they do in the flesh. And while that criticism is bound in many ways by the personal opinion of whoever spouts it, it's something that simply doesn't ring true. Haunted is a remarkably well-put together effort that doesn't have much chaff left to cut from the wheat. It's a lot cleaner and tidied up than their live shows, but you expect that when bands get some good mastering work done instead of just spitting out a mixtape-like quality release. It's a solid record, and indeed is one of the best we'll see coming from our shores all year.

In Wellington in particular there seems to be a bit of a lull in the music scene with the migration of many bands like Sharpie Crows to Melbourne and the virtual disappearance of others like Wind Ups - groups like Wilberforces just don't travel so often anymore to make an appearance down here. But these kids are on the cusp of something very cool if the momentum and more hard work can get them there.

Time will tell if they'll be able to grow more into their potential - fingers crossed huh?

see more