The self-titled third album from London's Let's Wrestle sees the band enter a new phase of maturity and sophistication giving frontman Wesley Patrick Gonzalez a forum to showcase his songwriting talents and love of classic pop. More heartfelt and musically diverse than previous albums, Let’s Wrestle sees the band transformed and ready to move up to a different level completely.
Straddling the sounds of the psych pop pioneers of the 60s and the Laurel Canyon cowboys of the 70s, Gonzalez still manages to give the songs a quintessentially English twist. For the first time, strings and horns are brought in giving the album a bigger, fuller sound, drawing on inspiration from the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Judee Sill, Harry Nilsson, Fairport Convention and The Kinks.
The songs reveal an open account of Gonzalez’s life during the transition to adulthood, the band’s two previous albums, In the Court of the Wrestling Lets (2009) and Nursing Home (produced by Steve Albini in 2011), having been written when he was still in his teens. The path to maturity is reflected in the approach to the making of the record too: whereas the previous records were more collaborative efforts, the recording saw Gonzalez seize the reins and assume total control, writing parts for the other musicians and obsessing over his musical vision, adding strings and other instrumentation.
Recorded at Lightship 95, a converted boat on the Thames, the album was made with ex-test Icicles/Kasma man Rory Atwell at the helm, his work for Veronica Falls, Male Bonding and the Vaccines making him the perfect man for the job. Like many great English songwriters Gonzalez is adept at evoking feeling through location. The songs take place in and around Hackney in London, with references to Abney Park Cemetery in “Pull Through For You”, a duet with Veronica Falls’ Roxanne Clifford and first single “Codeine and Marshmallow”, sees Gonzalez listening to country music and comparing Stoke Newington to the Old West.
Named by Lawrence (Felt, Denim) after a book by David Shrigley, Let's Wrestle were formed by Wesley Patrick Gonzalez on guitar and vocals with Darkus Bishop on drums and Mike Lightning on bass, recording their first two albums with that line-up before Mike left and was replaced by Sam Pillay (who left after the recording of the new album to focus on his band Virginia Wing). The third album also saw the addition of Max Claps of The Proper Ornaments on guitar, along with guest appearances by Darren Hayman on B Bender guitar, Meilyr Jones from Racehorses on organ and Max Bloom from Yuck on trumpet.
When Let's Wrestle first burst onto the scene in 2008 with their snotty, scuzzed up punk it was hard to imagine them lasting five weeks, yet alone five years, and that they have done is testament to Gonzalez' songwriting talent and musical vision. A poignant reflection on growing up, Let's Wrestle is a deliciously diverse collection of terrific songs, brimming with invention that is just one more step along the way of Let's Wrestle becoming the men we've grown to love.