Despite their fresh-faced appearance, Brighton trio, The Wytches draw on the lineage of feedback-drenched rock running from the Pixies to Nirvana via 00s Brit bands, Nine Black Alps and The Subways, with a sprinkling of The Horrors debut LP’s cartoon goth-ness. As The Libertines’ recent comeback shows prove, audience appetites haven’t faded for down and dirty rock n’ roll, and tonight at Scala, the crowd head-bang from the first song onwards, with crowd-surfers already emerging by second song, “Burn Out The Bruise”. By the first change of pace offered by “Wide At Midnight”, spots left untainted by spilt beer after the support acts had been lost, and any December chill had been well and truly shaken off.
Singer-guitarist, Kristian Bell flits between murmuring and screeching his scratchy vocals, which evoke Vines’ frontman, Craig Nicholls. This is best exemplified on opening track,“Digsaw” from debut LP, “Annabel Dream Reader”; the record has been referred to as a break-up album, but it is far from typical; many of the lyrics on the LP read like a young lost soul wrestling with their post-relationship self in a shroud of psychedelics-fuelled allegory, such as the cryptic lines from “Beehive Queen”, “If I beat in a plastic bottle could I be a boy? She said “no”.
As enchanting as The Wytches can be with their psych-surf riffs and menacing thrash-outs, when they slow things down for “Weights And Ties”, it is hard to discern the emotional fragility that the band seems to want to convey. It can be a difficult balancing act to both wear the mystical aura of goth-rockers and to also make grown-men well up. Perhaps, they may be best advised to look at The Horrors’ approach to break-up songs, with Faris’ eery rendition of “He Cried” by The Shangri-La’s in “Who Can Say”, a palimpsest in how to speak of pain in a detached and aloof way.