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A lot’s happened since W.H. Lung’s debut shot to the top of our hallowed chart in 2019, not least my high definition fade (courtesy of the good people at Rusholme’s New Style Barbers*), and the Mancunian unit wear the changes well on their sophomore album. Brewed under the expansive skies of the Calder Valley and the mind expanding experience of the mighty Wet Play, Vanities marries the confidence of Incidental Music with a new found maturity, dialing back on the tension to deliver a series of optimistic electronic anthems rendered in a high gloss sheen.
Driving their DeLorean from 70s Düsseldorf to noughties Cologne, motorik rhythms evolve into the sleek beats of micro-house, deftly repurposed into the firm foundations of a festival-sized sound. Gone are the angst-laden yelps of their debut as vocalist Joe explores the full versatility of his range, building from a tender coo to ecstatic outpouring on the gospel flecked “Gyd Time” or taking a brief diversion into Jimmy Sommerville register on accomplished opener “Calm Down”. There’s still a little post punk grit lurking in the glitter though, most notably in towering single “Showstopper”, an astounding new-new wave masterpiece which propels the thrust of Grauzone’s “Eisbar” into the skyscraping grandeur of Depeche Mode’s ’87 vintage.
But Vanities is unashamedly ecstatic, and as such is expressed in the language of the hedonist, whether it be Bobby Orlando melodies, Michael Meyer sequences or the unbridled exuberance of highlife guitars, all lovingly referenced and reimagined by the group’s Tom Sharkett. Sinbad from Brookside once said “escapism is the elixir for uncertain times”, and that’s certainly the case here. W.H. Lung may be Manchester’s third best Chinese superstore, but they’re still the city’s best band.
*Piccadilly Records does not condone or approve this product placement.
1. Calm Down
2. Gd Tym
3. Pearl In The Palm
4. Ways Of Seeing
7. Figure With Flowers
8. Somebody Like