Jack Boyce reviews Nude with Demon by The Web of Lies, the new musical collaboration of indie veterans Neil Robinson and Edwin Stevens.
Every now and then, a band will come along with such a fully formed, singular vision that it’s hard not to be absolutely astonished by its might. This is exactly what has happened with The Web Of Lies, a brand new band with a ton of experience in their ranks. Headed up by Neil Robinson (Buffet Lunch) and Llanfairfechan artist Edwin Stevens (Irma Vep) – alongside an incredibly strong supporting cast of musicians from Leeds and Glasgow smattered across the nine tracks – Nude With Demon is an incendiary introduction into what could be one of the best UK psychedelic records of the year.
For their debut, The Web Of Lies have landed on a label that feels like a match made in heaven with Wrong Speed Records. Nude With Demon recalls much of the same ground that Wrong Speed head Joe Thompson covered with his band Hey Colossus in their early days, with a beautifully left-field art-rock spin that certainly feels pulled from Stevens’ past work heading up his Irma Vep project alongside the even further experimentalist free-rock of Yerba Mansa.
Lead single and first track on the record, ‘Receiver’, is a succinct encapsulation of their sound and signals to the variety of journeys which lie ahead; a hefty piece of sludgy psych-rock, it is almost impossible not to bob along to this track’s menacing, galloping instrumental. And then: a brutal left turn. The sound flipping into a whirlwind of anti-solo guitars, it’s certainly a sharp diversion, but one which induces curiosity rather than fear. Nude With Demon does sometimes wash off the sludge, but beneath the sheen remains a tasty glimmer of gloominess. At times the record veers towards straight up post-punk – ‘Crossed Arms’ features a frenetic bass-line with Kathryn Gray (Mia La Metta, Nape Neck) taking over vocals.
In fact, many of Nude With Demon‘s highlights come when Gray and Jessica Higgins (Vital Idles) chip in on vocal duties. That’s not to take away from Edwin Stevens’ desolate and spectral voice which so often blurs with the instrumentals swirling around him, but to credit both guest vocalists who – while not in the backdrop quite enough to constitute ‘background vocals’ – are still expertly used, their voices offering a lovely fullness to the clearer parts of the record before everything inevitably cascades into an off-road tornado of whirling instruments and clashing sound.
Like many great debuts before them, Nude With Demon is a showcase of a band who, in their infancy, have an incredible weight and bombastic urgency. The Web of Lies do, too, differentiate themselves from many of their breakout peers by the sheer shape and command their music already possesses on this most confident of debuts. Nude with Demon is a testament to the power wielded by a group of formidable DIY artists pulling in the same direction – the result is a maximal record that is sure to be beloved by those who prefer their music thick with atmosphere, grit and propulsion.
Nude with Demon by the Web of Lies is available now.
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