Rumblings surrounding Miles Romans-Hopcraft have been in the making for quite some time. Over the past 7 years Miles, better known by his stage name as WU-LU, has been writing, recording, and performing, and this South London kid has been busy. My last encounter with him was off his 2018 N.A.I.S. 4-song EP release, which wasn’t long enough. He’s since released a 5-song EP, S.U.F.O.S. back in 2019, as well as a number of singles and his 2020 chill-vibed Overgrown Interludes.
WU-LU is back though, dropping his latest full-length release LOGGERHEAD (Warp Records). He’s teased the new album last year releasing singles off of the album, but with all three singles released, they only scratch the surface leaving listeners completely unprepared for what’s in store. WU-LU is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist/emcee, although there are moments when it seems WU-LU is flirting with Hip-Hop, much like many UK artists who would blur lines back in the late 90s, early ’00s (Tricky, Goldie), while completely immersed within the culture itself. With the opening “Take Stage,” cooing backing vocals make way for an infectious, repetitive bassline and lyricism tempered in gritty & thoughtful reality. The string arrangement blends in seamlessly barely noticeable until the realization of their existence. WU-LU isn’t fearful of sharing spotlights allowing others the shine along with him. It’s difficult to ignore that on “South featuring Lex Amor,” a call to arms, with riotous dynamic shifts, fighting & challenging the gentrification of South London. Here, his rhymes, and his howling voice are offset by Lex Amor’s captivatingly restrained vocals. The track rocks with the fervor of a thousand suns. It’s unexpected and completely welcomed. “Scrambled Tricks,” seems to edge on schizophrenia and the multiple voice overdubs seem misshapen around the rhythm. It’s creepy AF but when I hear “Calo Paste,” which features Léa Sen, the oddity is elevated. The dragging vocal delivery fits neatly around the musical backdrop (strings, percussion), as both artists wrap their words around mental challenges. As they repeat “I don’t want to see your mental health go to waste,” it’s a fight for survival at least.
There’s no rhyme or reason to the album’s flow, but it doesn’t matter here as “Slightly” shifts from a guitar-oriented indie rock movement, suddenly bursting with a thick beat underneath. That’s quickly followed by the glitchy “Blame,” intent on rattling the senses with its free jazz-like percussion changing the tempo. WU-LU treads where no man dares to here. The momentary shift of “Road Trip,” swallowed by a quick-paced funked bassline at the minute mark, changes everything. WU-LU’s echoing voice is soon engulfed by a noisy dynamic shift. He allows the music to drift, taking on a life of its own. And here, things change once again with “Times,” in an obscure White Mandingos manner. WU-LU rocks out with chiming distorted guitars, catchy rhythms, and melodic vocal delivery. It’s enthralling and no one will be able to avoid its draw. It leads into the album’s closer, “Broken Homes,” with an infectious melody, feedbacking guitars, and more dynamic shifts, as the track allows for a different look into WU-LU’s psyche.
Whoever said such diversity on one release detracts from getting a clear view of an artist, doesn’t understand that allowing such an influx of influences offers up a full view of what one is capable of. With LOGGERHEAD, WU-LU has given listeners a broad view of who he is and it’s fucking brilliant.