Articles tagged with Das Wanderlust

The Exorcist of art rock

Das Wanderlust - Horses for Courses
There’s nothing more terrifying than corrupted innocence. Forget zombies, vampires or chainsaws—the scariest movies are those about little kids gone evil. That’s what makes Horses for Courses, the debut full-length by British trio Das Wanderlust more terrifying than any death metal band. The group’s mixture of twee pop and abrasive art rock is as unsettling as it is infectious, with goofy 8-bit keyboards set against fractured blasts of guitar and drums.

This dichotomy is best captured by “Puzzle,” which pairs singer Laura Simmons’s soft, girlish vocals with thundering crescendos and creepy keyboard arpeggios. The song ultimately breaks into a propulsive major-key outro with wordless yelps that evoke the joyous mayhem of Ponytail. It’s one of the only moments of catharsis on the album, most of which favours threatening buildups and bone-chilling screams. Even when the band momentarily scales back, as on “We’re All Doomed,” Simmons builds tension with quivering singing and high, gasping breaths; this inevitably explodes into jarring noise rock fireworks.

mp3: “We’re All Doomed”

Das Wanderlust’s sound is based primarily around Simmons’s vocal transformations, with arrangements that seem to move in accordance to her freakouts. Still, the band is hardly a one trick pony: the collection’s only true ballad, “Turn to Grey,” is perhaps the best song on the lot. With plunking piano and tinkling glockenspiel playing off a fluttering snare beat, it feels like it blow up at any second; it never does, and you can’t help but breath a sigh of relief when the song slows to a gradual halt. It shows that, as well as making a glorious racket, Das Wanderlust knows how to toy with listeners’ emotions, a talent that sets the band above the majorty of its noise rock contemporaries.

Horses for Courses is out now via Don’t Tell Clare.
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I think it’s German for “The Wanderlust”

I don’t recall ever being so genuinely terrified of a singer as I am of Laura Simmons from the group Das Wanderlust. Hailing from Middlesborough, England, her voice is high and girlish, and inflected with a thick northern accent. During low-key moments she sounds pleasant and tuneful, with just the slightest trace of tension to upset the prettiness. But when the band erupts – as it does on nearly every song – her voice becomes suddenly manic, with squeals and yelps that sound genuinely unhinged. Rather than releasing the tension, these screams have a quivering anxiety that only builds the sense of uneasiness. What makes it so truly frightening is that no matter how crazy she gets, Simmons never loses that girlish quality in her voice. It’s the same thing that makes young children so effective in horror movies – nothing is more sinister than tainted innocence.

The band’s instrumental arrangements are fittingly twisted, with goofy keyboards set against jagged guitars and explosions of drums. It’s a juxtaposition of cutesiness and abrasiveness that is something like the auditory equivalent to Happy Tree Friends.

The single “Puzzle” is a noisy highlight, beginning with dissonant pounding and wordless hollering that sets an ominous tone for the song’s (comparatively) quiet middle movement. But in the song’s final moments, it becomes unexpectedly tuneful, with a propulsive beat and upward-reaching keyboard arpeggios that are as close as the band ever gets to catharsis.

“Turn to Grey” is the band’s gentlest moment, and despite its chorus of “I’m filled with disappointment,” it’s genuinely beautiful. Based around piano and glockenspiel, it features no guitar and only minimal percussion. Given the rest of the band’s material, it sounds like it could blow up at any moment; it never does however, settling for an sped-up version of the chorus as its understated climax.

The band has released several 7″ singles (including “Puzzle”), some of which are available digitally through iTunes. The group’s debut full-length, Horses for Courses, will be officially released on May 18 (although it will be sold at shows prior to that).
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