While the second song on their second album might well demonstrate the terrible spelling abilities of Manchester band W.H. Lung, it does also show their brilliant skill when it comes to writing a catchy pop tune. With its motorik drum beat and pulsing synths, ‘Gd Tym’ is a perfect representation of the steps they have made since their debut. And at the same time, in its chorus of ‘I need a good, good, good, good, good time’ we might also find the rallying cry for the album as a whole.
Because Vanities really is 44 minutes of pure euphoric joy that never lets the energy drop. Even as they tell us to ‘Calm Down’ on the album’s opener (and potential best song), the music is telling us something entirely different. This a danceable but claustrophobic song , with a brooding vocal that sets us up well for the rest of this superb album.
This was all a very pleasant surprise for me personally, as their previous album Incidental Music had ended up, for me at least, being a little incidental. I’d enjoyed it at the time, but since we covered it on the podcast I haven’t listened again. So my first listen to Vanities came more with curiosity than excitement. And while ‘Calm Down’ and ‘Gd Tym’ definitely piqued my interest, it was a song nearer the end of the album that immediately smacked me in the face.
‘Showstopper’ seems so simple, with its use of repetition in the chorus and one of the most basic beats on the album, but it is such an earworm that I’ve been unable to stop singing it in nearly a month of listening. Reviews associate W.H. Lung with all sorts of bands, but if this song isn’t influenced by the amazing Wild Beasts then I’ll eat my own hand.
For my first few listens to the whole album, though, something really did hold me back from acknowledging how much I was enjoying it. Maybe it was the way in which Incidental Music had faded once I stepped away from it. The three songs I have mentioned above were bangers and I was happy to admit that, but I kept trying to resist bobbing my head to the others. Not anymore. Now, I am happy to tell you how addictive ‘Ways Of Seeing’ is, how I lose myself in the chorus of ‘ARPi’, or how I can’t wait to stand in a crowd at a festival and sing along to the word ‘roses’ in ‘Figure With Flowers.’
These aren’t incredibly complex songs. You don’t need to sit down with the lyrics and spend too much time trying to decipher them. But who cares? W.H. Lung have found a perfect combination, picking parts from many different influences while also making a sound that is all their own, marrying relentless and hypnotic instrumentation with the vocalist’s impressive range and intonation. They have done what they didn’t quite manage on their debut, making music that is fun but not throwaway, simple but not forgettable, anthemic but not over the top. Vanities is a hugely enjoyable album – and nothing more than that needs to be said.
Words by Fran Slater