Thursday, October 27, 2016

Album Review :: American Wrestlers - Goodbye Terrible Youth

American Wrestlers

Goodbye Terrible Youth

November 4 2016 (Fat Possum)


Words: Richard O’Hagan

It’s that time of year again, folks. The warm evenings of summer have given way to the chill nights of autumn and winter, light summer ales have been replaced with dark winter brews, and suddenly those breezy and cheerful summer anthems just don’t cut it any more. What you really need, then, is something solid, but uplifting to listen to, something to warm your veins like a good red wine and prevent you from descending into those dread January blues three months too soon. A good, seasonal, tonic, if you like.

In which case, Scottish-American band American Wrestlers might just be the thing that you are looking for. Dense and fuzzy guitars are undercut by a tinkling melodic piano that is most noticeable on current single ‘Amazing Grace’, a remarkable four-minute number where (Scots-born, now St. Louis, Missouri based) Gary McClure’s vocals drift in an out of the mix. There’s a definite West Coast feel to it all, and yet it seems so very fresh, different and, yes, warming.

McClure’s voice is more to the fore elsewhere, at which point it becomes evident that this is actually a much more bittersweet record than it first appears to be. From the bold opening statement of ‘Vote Thatcher’, with its deliberately ambiguous refrain of ‘I still can’t believe that you’ve died’, to the slower, more melancholic ‘Hello, Dear’ and it’s call to ‘Pay to pray’. Only on closer ‘Real People’ does McClure offer a glimmer of lyrical sunlight, as he urges us to "Take hand / don’t you worry about me."

It is no exaggeration to say that there are no fillers among the nine tracks on this album. Heck, there are plenty of bands who have passed through this place and who would kill for a song as good as ‘Someone Far Away’ – and that’s the weakest number here. Frankly, if you’re not humming the title track by the end then you’ve not been listening properly. This might be Goodbye Terrible Youth, but is a very welcome ‘hello’ to American Wrestlers.

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