Since their formation in 2011, English three piece The Wytches have been described as many things. They have been labelled as psych rock, doom surf, goth punk and any other colourful combination of genres you care to splice together. But really, at heart, the Wytches are a proper garage band in the traditional sense. Debut album Annabel Dream Reader reeks of the kind of energy created when a group of teenagers with that newly awakened passion for music get together and cut loose, no holds barred. It is gut instinct rock music, conceived from that initial love affair with loud guitars and visceral noise.
Reputedly recorded over just two days on an eight track recorder, it has that raw immediacy that suggests these songs were honed long before the record button was pressed. And it is all the better for it - the Wytches make a hugely impressive racket, a dark and youthful explosion of energy that sustains the thrills right across the thirteen tracks of this infectious debut album. The surf rock comparisons are not without some foundation - it's there in the Tarantino-esque twang of the lead guitar lines - but this is more Graveyard Girls than California Girls as the Wytches scuzz things up with buckets of distortion and Cobain- like screams. 'Digsaw' drops us right into ear bleeding territory, alternating between sinuous guitar lines and blasts of grunge noise.
'Grave Dweller' features squealing feedback and an obvious nod to influences like the Pixies and Nirvana, but there is something very English in their sound, with echoes of the dark psychedelia of Syd Barrett on 'Track 13' and the rousing 'Crying Clown'. 'Wire Frame Mattress' is as obliquely sinister as its title suggests while 'Beehive Clown' could be the White Stripes if Jack White was less in love with the blues and a little fonder of the shrieking goth pomp of the Birthday Party. When they strip things back on tracks like 'Weights and Ties' and 'Summer Again' the melodies breathe more freely, and a different side to the band is revealed.
With Annabel Dream Reader, the Wytches offer compelling proof that youth is most definitely not wasted on the young - it's an album that bristles with malicious intent, a raw and primal collection of songs that delivers wickedly dark pleasures at every turn.
Review by Paul Page | THREE POINT FIVE STARS