Wyvern Lingo’s self-titled debut is one of the most anticipated Irish releases of 2018. The band fuelled excitement about the album with the release of Subside and I Love You Sadie, with the latter recently nominated for the RTE Choice Music Prize ‘Song of the Year 2017’, and combined some of the finest elements of neo R’n’B, soul and indie, highlighting the group’s ability to pen memorable hooks and haunting vocal melodies.
The band have lived up to the lofty expectations put upon them. ‘Wyvern Lingo’ is a brilliant record packed with elegantly crafted tunes. There’s a keen sense of cohesion throughout the record. Where most groups debuts tend to play as a collection of good stand-alone songs, Wyvern Lingo have obviously put the thought and effort into creating a beautiful whole.
The group have described the record as an exploration of their collective experiences, both as individuals and as friends. Perhaps this is why the album plays with so much personality. Throughout its entirety there’s an underlying sense of the bond shared between the three members.
The album opens with Out Of My Hands, which flips a confrontation Karen Cowley had with an apathetic man on its head and uses his own words to display the futility of his resignation to accept the status quo. By the end of the album it’s very clear that ‘Wyvern Lingo’ is a project of passion, personality and social consciousness.
The band’s sound has its foundations in the current explosion of fantastic R’n’B artists. Groups such as Hiatus Kaiyote. and certain elements of Frank Ocean come immediately to mind. Yet, the band have taken the bones of that sound and fleshed it out with something unique. The lyrical idiom employed throughout the project is a beautiful melancholy, tinged with unease.
The exquisite vocal harmonies sung amongst the group sometimes feel like they’d be more at home on one of The Gloaming’s albums as opposed to a Blu Cantrell song. Another factor separating Wyvern Lingo’s sound from the typical R’n’B style is their instrumental timbre.
While the vocals throughout the album retain an otherworldly sheen via all three members, the guitars and most of the keyboards sound alive. These are songs that were written to be played live, so it’s no surprise that Wyvern Lingo have earned a reputation for being a fantastic live band.
The album is full of highlights, so singling out just one track as standout is nigh on impossible. Crawl is the song most closely linked to an easily identifiable R’n’B style. The track’s a bitter post mortem on a previous relationship. The perfect combination of an instantly recognizable hip-hop beat and Karen Cowley’s passionate vocal delivery.
At times ‘Wyvern Lingo’ seems so connected to the spiritual livewire, the lyrical content so revealing that you can’t help but feel like you’re taking part in an intimate conversation with a friend. It’s a record that invites you to enter a musical flow state, with remarkable success.
Tell Him elegantly heralds in the last third of the record. Sung and performed with the same brutal honesty as Hozier’s Take Me To Church, the song draws you in and then shocks you with Saoirse Duane’s punchy guitars on the chorus. ‘Wyvern Lingo’ is an album full of movement and energy. Songs such as Tell Him and Used provide a moment of respite, like the album itself is taking a breath.
Yet the tracks that haunt you most from this album are the movers; Out Of My Hands, Maybe It’s My Nature and Fountains. There’s something enthralling about the group’s tight rhythm section, bass player Karen Cowley and drummer Caoimhe Barry seem to share some sort of superhuman connection throughout the album.
It’s genuinely exciting to hear how accomplished this album is. There are plenty of songs on this record with real radio play potential. Not since The Republic of Loose’s Comeback Girl has an Irish act had a single as catchy and well written as I Love You, Sadie. The album feels like the beginning of something beautiful. Expect big things from Wyvern Lingo.
Read our recent interview with Wyvern Lingo here.