Original photo by Machine Operated.
To be honest, I had some real problems writing this review. How do you encapsulate an album that traverses ultra-marathon levels of ground? An album that refuses convention and is highly individual... Wu-Lu, real name Miles Roman-Hopcraft, says it himself when speaking about the album in question, his debut, LOGGERHEAD: "I’ve always come with an emotional perspective and I don’t try and conform to what is going on. I tell it how I feel it." This is maybe a little cliché and you can be forgiven for a tinge of cringe, but listening to LOGGERHEAD, it really does feel like a world of its own. This record will challenge you.
In its most pure form, LOGGERHEAD is equal parts hip hop and punk, with each genre informing the other and dipping into neighbouring genres too. Naturally though, it is more than just that. The Financial Times described LOGGERHEAD as "an anti-gentrified sound world." Music described as 'anti-gentrified' is not a concept that I've really considered before but it makes sense here. LOGGERHEAD is diverse, rough, real, and at times stripped back. To me, the diversity manifests in the combination of sounds being less a heavy blend and more an addition of individual sounds, pieced together like a jigsaw. Each song features a different sound, tone and/or genre. For example, 'Night Pill' is an airy and wired hip hop track, followed by 'Facts' which is closer to drill, then 'Scrambled Tricks' is a raucous punk track. The album is a community of sounds and genres that come together to shape the picture of Wu-Lu's anti-gentrified sound world.
It follows then that this album conjures a real feel of disenfranchisement with the world, for a number of reasons: First, I think the diversity of sounds encapsulated within the album could represent a refusal to be tied down or pigeon-holed into what music fans might consider a knowable quantity. As in, is it a punk album? Is it a hip hop album? The answer is it's neither, and the album flies in the face of those descriptors. Second, a whiff of disenfranchisement comes through in the sounds themselves. For example, the airy, ghost-like qualities at the start of 'Facts' feel quite foreboding, like a damp, empty London street at night with no money in your pocket. Plus and most obviously, the general punk aesthetic heard on the album lends itself to anti-establishment fervour. I also felt the album title might give a clue: while LOGGERHEAD is named for the Loggerhead Turtle, it also alludes to the phrase 'to be at loggerheads' - 'to be at odds with something.' This is an album that knows what it's not.
I think there is a lot to explore in this album (as evidenced by my difficulty to describe it), and a lot to be surprised or enlightened by. If you're thinking it all seems a bit too heavy, just hold your horses for one quick second! There are lighter parts on the album, like the piano line on 'Facts', my personal favourite track 'Calo Paste', and 'Slightly' has an easy groove to it. It wouldn't be an anti-gentrified world without some pure heart. I can't see into the future, but I wouldn't be surprised if this proved to be an influential album for many artists to come. Well worth the listen.