Gary McClure, the Brit-transplanted-to-America front-man of American Wrestlers, has accomplished a truly remarkable thing on the band's new album, Goodbye Terrible Youth, out today on Fat Possum: he's made music that sounds positively American. And if anything on the fab release sounds at all British, it's the sound of UK indie as filtered through Yank sensibilities; think second wave Slumberland bands with more of an AOR outlook on tune-age.
Despite an opener called "Vote Thatcher", this release is decidedly Yank in outlook and temperament as it's stuff like "Give Up" that offers up shimmering alt-rock in the style of both Philly's Literature as well as Boston's The Cars. That combination sounds an odd one but on tracks like "Hello, Dear", McClure and his bandmates -- Bridgette Imperial (keyboard), Ian Reitz (bass), and Josh Van Hoorebeke (drums) -- make it make perfect sense. If this lot have, thanks to McClure, a decidedly Anglocentric sense of what pop is supposed to be, they've got a decidedly American, Pixies-inspired way with a big hook. Even "Terrible Youth" sounds like Ash covering some American band, if that makes any sense at all. There's volume galore here as well as terrific melodies. If "Amazing Grace" delivers shoegaze that sounds as much like power-pop pioneers Shoes as it does My Bloody Valentine, then the superb "Blind Kids" adds a touch of New Order to the mix, the effect being not unlike Velocity Girl covering an old O.M.D. track. At their very best, McClure and his wife and other 2 band-mates make music that feels like a few familiar acts in spots only, the overall effect on something like "Someone Far Away" being a wholly fresh one.
For the majority of the tracks on this brief release, American Wrestlers have created something close to a new strain of indie. As much as so much of this feels like records you already love, it also feels new in some significant ways, as if McClure and co. have found a way to put the pieces together in a new pattern. And regardless of how you genre-label this set of songs, one thing is clear: American Wrestlers are making some of the most melodic and catchy rock of 2016.
[Photo: Evan Cuttler]