I’m writing this on my birthday. I wake up to the sound of my cat clawing at the curtains; my eyes catching tiny glimpses of morning light with each scratch. I decide to hide under the covers for the best part of an hour before finally accepting defeat and dragging myself out of bed. I slowly shuffle towards the bathroom, look into the mirror and see a tired, reluctant face staring back. I’ve never much liked my face – it reminds me too much of my father, and with each passing year it feels more like his than my own. My relationship with my dad is virtually non-existent – he had an affair with my best friend’s Mum when I was 13 years old. He seems to have completely given up on the idea of repairing the damage between us these days; I don’t even get a card.
I listen to Francis Lung’s ‘Back One Day’ to cheer myself up – it’s a song that manages in a few triumphant minutes to reaffirm my belief in life and love. There’s a raw honesty in Tom McLung’s lyrics, and the tender piano notes feel almost Daniel Johnston-esque in their tone. The impressively cathartic chorus breaks free with almost willful abandonment. McLung’s solo ambitions have been in the works since he was a teenager, taking a backseat during the WU LYF days, but always there… his song-writing being patiently refined and developed. Having built up a reputation for an impassioned live show, McLung seems to be able to delicately balance both the intimate and more extrovert aspects of performance. The clean white suit he wears demands the audience to look at him… but when you do, you see a performer lost in his own world… and the accompanying video to ‘Back One Day’ reflects this, with Manchester visual artist Ella Deacy keeping the focus on McLung’s anguished facial movements. At times McLung reminds me of John Lennon, his melodies are beautifully simple in their structure, or at least they seem that way; I guess that’s the trick to all great pop music.
It’s getting pretty hard to keep track of post-LYF endeavours. Tom McClung is carving out a solo career as Francis Lung. Joe Manning has been breaking hearts as part of alt-pop venture Ménage à Trois, teased us with the mysterious Rainbow Torches… and now unveils latest project Dream Lovers with Evans Kati. Keeping up? Don’t forget McClung, Manning and Kati formed nu-disco group Los Porcos with FAMY too. Ellery James Roberts for the time being remains silent, his only statement being the beautiful and grandiose ‘Kerou’s Lament’, leaving us wanting more.
It’s certainly remarkable how all four former WU LYF members are creatively pushing themselves to new heights. Dream Lovers début composition Go, Gauguin, Go is yet another example of just how talented they are… a swaying, instrumental jam that takes you to another place, crossing a melancholy ocean into a dream.
Towards the end of last year, I had the pleasure of sharing a bill with Francis Lung, Bernard & Edith and Kirin J Callahan. Lung’s performance interested me most that night, as it was the first time I had seen him solo, and I felt excited at the prospect having been a fan of WU LYF.
Age Limits was a beautiful experience, emotions spilling out. The crowd slowly inched forward for his set, clearly captivated by his stage presence (and sharp white suit). They began to sway and dance, the song that provoked them into this reaction was A Selfish Man. The melody is pretty much unstoppable, bodies can’t help but move. The lyrics are in confrontation with this: tense, reflective, full of discontent. Manchester needs to embrace him with open arms.
Wu Lyf, the Manchester band that exposed our desire for mystery and romanticism in music… a compelling story that is continuing forward with several new projects.
Francis Lung, the suited stage persona of ex bassist Tom McClung, reveals himself to be more personal and intimate than the angry and epic nature of frontman Ellery James Roberts. Age Limits is a brutally beautiful and tender piece of work, and the stunning new video by friend Jamie Allan, has Lung emerging from the darkness with those now familiar raw howls. This is pop at its most heaviest.