Album Reviews

Let’s Wrestle – Nursing Home

(Full Time Hobby) UK release date: 16 May 2011

Wesley Patrick Gonzalez is an awful singer.  His shambled, waterlogged croon hangs in the air like a plagued bird; atonal, dissolved, and knowingly discordant – but he’s a natural fit in the general disposition of Let’s Wrestle. Slapdash, strung-out, disappointed with yourself and all the girls who don’t love you – the band feeds off that sense of missed opportunity. The desolate, meandering mess of the mid-20s makes them feel right at home. On Nursing Home their chunky lo-fi is being banged out with the assistance of  the legendary Steve Albini behind the boards, but that’s more of a bullet point than anything – they remain committed to the raucous range, which will continue to result in mirthful, air-tight punk for the foreseeable future.

Let’s Wrestle almost always operate on surface level – but that’s by design. They approach their two minute tunes with slapdash fuck-all. The guitars are padded down to a mushy, guttural drawl, drums machine-gun by with Black Flag stoicism, and, like a cockney Wavves, they try their best to look disconnected. Sloppy morsels like I’m So Lazy make up the meat of the record – disheveled and dumb, but with a secluded sense of musical adequacy. They rage through a relentless number of these ultra-catchy jams; If I Keep On Loving You is all schizo-romance while There’s A Rockstar In My Room laments their lack of potent, sexual fame, and In The Suburbs is a cock-eyebrow tribute to the insulated joys of wasting weekend afternoons on computer games. Of course despite their lyrical distinctions, they all blaze by at the same bare-faced tempo; this is jokey punk at its most self-aware.

The few respites offered slip into placid acoustic balladry, still raw at the joints but less ferociously jaunty. These songs also catch the band at their most honestly empty-hearted – where loneliness is less of a gag and more of a frustrating reality. I Am Useful is probably the most touching. Our protagonist recounts everything that makes him useful, his house, his handiness, his degree in bionic physics, while attempting to process his newly absent spouse. These moments aren’t frequent, but they keep the record in a good, tasteful balance – puffy hedonism and deadpan humor do not often bolt down an album unassisted.

Let’s Wrestle have certainly crafted the sophomore album we all expected from them. There’s little, beyond even that Albini attachment, that strives beyond the aspirations of a general set of rickety punk tunes – but at the same time, everything here is working wonderfully as intended. For a band of such slightness, Let’s Wrestle have carved out a comfortable hovel of existence for themselves – their comic, sardonic, and deeply English straightforwardness is surprisingly not replicated within the global scene of brusk lo-fi minimalists. There might be a day coming soon where we’ll have to take them with an added sense of weight, but for now just enjoy the hooks – that’s what they’re there for after all.

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