The beauty of a debut album is most often the shock of the new, the sound of an artist coming out of nowhere with a body of work. That happens less and less these days, of course, and certainly not in the case of Wyvern Lingo. Their self-titled debut seems to have been part of a run of releases that stretches back to the Widow Knows EP four years ago. Any sense of mystery is definitely absent, especially when the album is front-loaded with much of what has come before. That means that Wyvern Lingo opens with the band’s three most recent singles, a cautious move in anyone’s book.
That’s of no matter, however, when the tracks in question just happen to be a some of the most arresting releases to have emerged in the past while. ‘I Love You Sadie’, the song that moved everything up a gear, sits sandwiched between ‘Out Of My Hands’ and the recent ‘Maybe It’s My Nature’, a trio of songs that have come to define a sound that has distilled some potentially difficult influences into a musically and lyrically smart approach. You’ll know them well by now and know just how fantastic they are.
If there might be a worry that this is where the record peaks, then the rest of Side One (yes, we’re reviewing this from the vinyl) manages to hold its own. ‘Crawl’ keeps the indie RnB template going with great success and, just when you find yourself craving a left turn, it comes in the shape of the starkly beautiful solo guitar and vocal of ‘Dark Cloud’ before a re-recorded ‘Used’ strips everything down to the bare minimum.
The second half of the album needs to go some to match this and, to be honest, isn’t quite up to the task – although it comes close. ‘Fountains’ and ‘Snow II’ are nice enough but don’t really stick in the memory, and it starts to feel that some of the spirit of adventure evident on their remixes wouldn’t have gone amiss here. The game isn’t quite up, however, as things fall back into place with ‘Tell Him’ and the notably more rocky ‘Fear’. By the time they reach the closing ‘When I Can Mix (Rubbish)’, the trio have comfortably returned to those initial heights.
Perhaps more of the assured end of a first chapter than a bold step into the future, this is nonetheless a snapshot of a band who have taken their time, developed their craft and blossomed into something to treasure. And for that we love you Wyvern Lingo.