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Nursing Home
Let's Wrestle Nursing Home
Released 13 May 2011
Producer Steve Albini
Label Full Time Hobby
Length 30:40
Genre Alternative
Website myspace.com/letsfuckingwrestle
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London based indie band Let’s Wrestle take their cue from the “alternative” music and culture of the eighties and early nineties, identifying with the 'slacker' persona explored in the films of Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith and elements of grunge to produce their particular brand of punk/pop. Their first album In the Court of  the Wrestling Let’s garnered some critical praise, lead singer Wesley Patrick Gonzalez was lauded for his lyrics, and names like Mark E. Smith and David Gedge were liberally but prematurely thrown around.

Fans of their first album won’t be disappointed with their sophomore release. The band has appointed the now legendary Steve Albini for production duties, known for his work with Nirvana, Pixies, Jon Spencer and various others. Albini’s influence is very evident, the new album is tighter and there’s an economical twelve tracks as opposed to In the Court's sixteen. Mike Lightning’s bass boasts melodic lines and is rightly allowed plenty of room to breathe, and Darkus Bishop’s drums punctuate and pulsate like an automatic weapon. The end product is twelve solid garage/punk pop ballads that are reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement, most tracks have a hazy layer of distorted guitar and they are in full on attack mode. However, the band they remind of most are early Weezer, especially in Gonzalez’s vocal delivery.

That wry sense of humour that found favour with critics first time round is employed from the beginning. 'In Dreams, Pt. 2', ('In Dreams' appeared on the first album, but it doesn’t seem to be a companion piece, they are neither similar in content or construction.) Here a dream is recalled like a night full of crazy mishaps and adventure, 'In Dreams' felt much more like a straight love song. His idiosyncratic lyric style doesn’t seem forced, songs seem autobiographical, and he even makes reference to himself by name in song. The randomness of situations and people encountered in the dream don’t give the impression of being intentionally wacky but it still isn’t all that inspired. As much as this album is about being lazy and the dread of adulthood, it’s also about girls. "In my dreams they never understand me" but "you get it straight away".

It is the following track 'If I Keep On Loving You' that is probably the album’s most unashamedly honest love song. He implores the object of his affection to, "lie next to me", he’s completely besotted, "you’ve been blindfolding me". He’s not interested in anything else, he needs her to "come over now", "I want you in my room". Most alternative bands seek to escape the suburbs, being ‘male, middle class and white’ has long been subject matter for moaning indie bands. Gonzalez offers it here as somewhere safe and protective. 'In the Suburbs' seems to be drawn from an idyllic TV sitcom scenario. His days are filled by playing computer games, and having dinner with his mum, "All I’ll ever worry about is feelin’ outta sight, I feel so safe at home". He’s probably being ironic, or maybe not, so much of the lyrics are tinged with this idea of adulthood being akin to a kind of death.

Indeed the Nursing Home of the title might be something he finds attractive, as opposed to a reference about the misery of adult life. 'For My Mother' is a sweet ode to his mum, as she struggles through a family bereavement. His disconnected feelings are juxtaposed by his heartfelt desire to make his mum feel better. It’s sentimental but not saccharine, mostly due to the honesty and the empathetic humour of dealing with relatives you know nothing about. 'There’s a Rockstar in My Room' bemoans fame but is little more than an amusing a title. The song is crying out for some Nigel Blackwell type lyrics to make it great. What the song lacks lyrically highlights the difference between him and the wordsmiths he has been compared to. Post marriage break up song 'I Am Useful' is written from the perspective of someone who has just got a 'Dear John'. It’s an imagined third person scene as opposed to being autobiographical, but lyrically one of the better tracks on the album. The song is full of doubt and loneliness but the protagonist has opted to “put an English face on it”. 'I Forgot' is an anthem for slackers, or the great avoiders. You could imagine Evan Dando singing it, although the air would be different and it might only make the b-side. The final acoustic number 'Getting Rest' is a reflective number, allowing us to re-examine the album's themes. It's not high concept stuff, but there is more here than Gonzalez's wit, and on subsequent listens the album's focus seems a little broader that the travails of lazy youths. "That’s the way the world works today".

Let’s Wrestle play regressive music but they have some decent songs that make this less of a consideration. Gonzalez was praised as a wry lyrical scholar mature beyond his years first time round, two years later, there is no real improvement. They are hard to dislike though and there is plenty of promise here. Albini’s production has changed the sound of the band for the better, Nursing Home is a step further than In the Court. They keep things tight and it’s not long enough to be offensive, but not realised enough to be great.

- Ray Burke