The Rise Of Wu Lyf, Manchester’s Most Secretive Band

If there’s one band that best embodies the surge of creativity fuelling the new breed of Manchester bands at the moment, it’s Wu Lyf. Easily the most secretive of the new crop, the fourpiece have pretty much gone to ground since the nation’s A&R men and women caught sight of them. Of course, this has only served to intensify the scrutiny surrounding them.

Photo: Jonathan Flanders

So why are they so in demand? First and foremost, they’re a really great band. Songs like ‘Concrete Gold’, ‘Heavy Pop’ and ‘Lucifer Calling’ are equally harrowing and timid, recalling the thundering emotions of such twisted souls as Tom Waits, Kurt Cobain and Nick Cave, where scuzzy gospel mantras spew forth above fuzzy, otherworldy clatter and quasi-religious disturbia.

Second, there’s the ever-growing sense of mystique and intrigue amassing behind the band. Initial photos showed a core of about 10 people all wearing balaclavas while smoke bombs were let off in an empty car park. It was an utterly beguiling image that made them look like a cross between a terrorist cell and a scene from the Malcolm McDowell-starring ‘If….’. It looked great, actually.

Not exactly the types to ‘reveal all’ in blogs or video interviews, internet rumours are currently in overdrive about whether the band are real or just a marketing ploy (for the record, we’re going with the former). Many eye them with suspicion because of their all-encompassing online presence (Flash websites, passwords, numerous Tumblr and MySpace accounts…the band always appear to be one step ahead of their detractors thanks to this neverending sprawl of cannily designed portals).

But they’re not actually that aloof. Every message is there online for all to see – you’ve just got to find them. And that’s half the fun of this band. NME has amassed a collection of roughly 30 songs so far. With some, we got lucky – they were taken down almost instantly.

Why? We don’t know. But others are still readily available. And until recently the band were still playing gigs – amazing ones at that – at their manager’s café, An Outlet. Despite the hype, they charged fans just £1 to get in.

Meanwhile, there are also numerous Vimeo and YouTube videos, ranging from the excellent, professionally shot ‘Spitting It Concrete Like The Golden Sun God’ (directed by one of the band’s friends Jamie Allan, watch it below), to four separate shorts for ‘Heavy Pop’.

While many still eye the band with suspicion, their message is beginning to spread. Wu Lyf is, of course, an acronym – World Unite: Lucifer Youth Foundation – and there have been open invitations for anyone to join ‘the LYF’. Check the band’s Facebook page and you’ll find numerous pictures of fans taking them up on their offer, wearing similar balaclavas and imitating those early, eerie photos.

One even appears to have a tattoo of the band’s crucifix logo on his wrist. Whatever happens next – it’s been a hell of a long time since a band have inspired such manic devotion so early on…

This article appears in the current issue of NME, on sale Wednesday 15 September.

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