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Y Niwl Y Niwl Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Excellently arranged and endearingly authentic surf-rock from north Wales.

Mike Diver 2010

And the last time you heard a "cold water" surf-rock outfit from north Wales was…? Exactly. And that’s the USP behind this eponymous debut long-player from Y Niwl – the name translates as "the fog". Will it be sitting pretty on the stereo once the novelty of hearing these Dick Dale Del-toned licks coming from unexpected persons wanes? Probably not. But while the thrill lasts, it’s quite something.

Authenticity is at the very forefront of the project, with the foursome keen to produce a record that not only echoed the works of Link Wray and The Shadows, but which could rub shoulders with them to a level where, if you knew no better, it could be considered a same-period piece. The track titles reflect the instrumental nature of the music – all of them are numbers (written in Welsh, naturally), and not in a sensibly sequential order either – and the production is kept basic. No flashy Pro Tools here – the 10 pieces were recorded straight to tape by British Sea Power engineer David Wrench. No overdubs at all; any reverb natural and, quite possibly on occasion, accidental. The sound’s spiky and uncluttered, breezy and bright; basslines bubble and percussion clicks playfully rather than thudding with modern technology-enhanced might. Organs squelch and wheeze, and guitar lines prance merrily.

And there’s really not a great deal more that needs stating for the critical record. As instrumental surf-rock affairs go, Y Niwl’s is excellently arranged, and endearingly authentic; it truly does sound like a lost relic rather than a release finding its way to shelves for the very first time in 2010. It’s a lot of fun, but like so many instant-fixes its longevity is questionable – there’s a very valid reason why you’ve never heard a band like this before, and that’s because there’s simply no demand for one. It’s got all the depth of a puddle in the midday sun. But Doubting Thomas sorts should, ideally, check their scepticism at the door, as for around half an hour this is very much the enjoyable experience. And when a track pops up on shuffle, it’ll brighten anyone’s day.

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