The trio’s thrashy, joyful momentum rarely lets up.
Martin Aston 2010
According to Wikipedia, Let’s Wrestle’s musical influences are (deep breath) The Beatles, Neil Young, Pavement, Nirvana, Swell Maps, Pixies, The Raincoats, Bowie, Beach Boys, Fugazi, ELO, Dinosaur Jr, Buddy Holly, Black Sabbath, The Clean, Denim, Grandaddy, Husker Du, Wire, Yo La Tengo and Phil Spector. But since the London trio’s probable album budget was £376, you doubt they’ll be matching Spector’s legendary Wall of Sound any time soon. Nor ELO’s classical prowess or The Beach Boys’ cream-of-wheat harmonies. What the list confirms, however, is a love for serrated tunes bolted to a fiery undercarriage. Pop-punk, in other words. As one track title puts it, I Wish I Was In Hüsker Dü.
But being British and barely out of their teens, with a love of silliness (check their lovable Monkees-indebted promos) and deadpan cheek, Let’s Wrestle don’t sound like Hüsker Dü either – except the closing instrumental pell-mell of a title-track. (And you tend not to hear lines like "I’m going to my local library / and then the charity shop" from US hardcore bands.) Surely the closest comparison is Reading’s Pete & the Pirates; there’s the same plaintive, happy-sad, wobbly edge to their buzzing popsicle attack and stories from the front line of lovelorn strife. The burbling lead-in basslines of Tank and Insects are especially Pirates-like. But that’s a compliment.
Either way, Britain is short on fine, affecting pop-punk, and this debut should have won a much stronger public vote on its original 2009 release. But Let’s Wrestle are now signed to Full Time Hobby, who are reissuing In The Court of the Wrestling Let’s (the title inspired by King Crimson’s album debut; this lot know their music, as you might expect given singer/guitarist Wesley Patrick Gonzalez’s dad is Peter Astor of Weather Prophets/Loft fame) with a bonus CD of their hard-to-find early singles, so stop your sobbing as the likes of Song for ABBA Tribute Record and the self-explanatory Music is My Girlfriend are now easily accessible. But it’s the album proper that demands attention most – and with 13 tracks (plus three interlude snippets), the trio’s thrashy, joyful momentum rarely lets up. I’m in Fighting Mood, Diana’s Hair, My Arms Don’t Bend That Way, Damn It and Song for Old People lead the pack, but that might change daily.
They might still be boys, but in the words of another nugget here: We Are the Men You'll Grow to Love Soon.