A Saturday night in downtown Kilburn saw the long awaited (and, considering it was recorded about 18 months ago, long overdue) launch of Horses for Courses, the debut album from Teesside trio Das Wanderlust. Taking the stage after sterling support from the ever wonderful Bobby McGees, the place of lead singer and keyboard player Laura Simmons was taken by the mysterious “Rock Wizard”, decked out like some prog-tastic spawn of the mid-70’s Rick Wakeman. But – lo and behold! – ‘twas indeed that cheeky scamp Laura underneath (the cape and false beard were in fact discarded because it was bloomin’ hot)!
Das Wanderlust are one of those bands that can be guaranteed to divide opinion. So much so that, confusingly, the NME decided to produce a schizophrenic review which on the one hand raves about the album, whilst on the other describes one track (Sea Shanty) as “literally the worst song we’ve ever heard and annoying on an almost nuclear level” (guitarist Andy Elliott ruefully reminded the audience of this). Personally, I think they’re great.
Musically, they are very reminiscent of X-Ray Spex, particularly Simmons’distinct vocal delivery, and late-70’s Fall. Crunchy guitars, buzzy 20p second hand Casio-style keyboards and melodies that don’t go quite where you expect, it’s a style that Das Wanderlust describe as “wrong pop”. The single Puzzle is what Elastica might have sounded like if they hadn’t spent all their time transcribing Wire and Stranglers albums whilst, conversely, the piano-based Turn to Grey has a very nursery-esque quality.
One thing to say about Das Wanderlust is that in no way do they take themselves seriously on stage. After a little dig at the archetypal Shoreditch gig crowd, there is much onstage banter (which apparently led to a bit of a rebuke from a rather sniffy reviewer in Cardiff recently) and they appeared to be having so much fun that they didn’t realise they’d reached the end of their set.
Heading back to the distant north, I’m sure their hearts were gladdened by the response to their set and the generally positive reviews to Horses for Courses suggest that hopefully we shall be seeing much more of Das Wanderlust soon.
Live photos appear courtesy of Richard Pearmain
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