It has taken a while but we finally have the debut album from Wynona Bleach. The wait from the initial recording in the summer of 2019 to its release in February 2022 has been a long one. With a lot of fans personally invested in the process via crowdfunding, expectations and hype was particularly high. This can sometimes lead to something of an anti-climax when everyone does get their hands on the release. We need not have worried though for Moonsoake has been more than worth the wait.
The no holds barred journey starts with ‘Drag’ and its opening drum salvo but a typically memorable guitar riff and Melyssa Shannon’s jubilant vocal delivery mean we’re off to a flyer. The pace refuses to relent and ‘Glimmer’ offers up a similarly punchy guitar riff that refuses to be neglected.
‘Lights’ offers up the first surprise on the record, as the pace drops and we are treated to a real slow burner. Dipping a toe into poppier territory, it isn’t completely unrecognisable thanks to a healthy drenching of haze. ‘Amigo’ brings the pace back up a notch but feels a little straight edged compared to what we’re used to. We suspect this may be down to the influence of producers Andy Bradfield and Avril Mackintosh (Manic Street Preachers, Tori Amos, Bjork) and while we are left feeling like the band are holding a little back here, it does help other tracks stand out.
Case in point is ‘Hollow’ which throws that straight edge out the window and instead offers up a brooding intensity that we found hard to shake. It is a real moment of intensity on the record and will no doubt play a big part in future live sets.
If you need some respite, title track ‘Moonsoake’ and early single ‘Aubergines’ delivering in spades. The former has a sweet pop rock vibe, thanks to that catchy chorus and the later has an almost boisterous feel to it. Elsewhere ‘Flesh’ teases being another slow burner but is a dark horse which blitzes towards the end.
The final surprise on the record comes from its closer ‘Blue Jeans’. Supposedly taken apart and re-built by Ryder-Jones (The Coral), it is unlike what has come before. The focus on the vocals of the duet, the subtle addition of strings and a meandering pace, give the album a wistful and heartfelt conclusion.
On Moonsoake, Wynona Bleach offer up twelve tracks than span a mix of emotions and intensity. From the uplifting and joyous, to melancholy and on occasion anger, they have got it covered. The band don’t stick to their tropes and instead go out of their comfort zone to deliver something memorable. It is hard to pin down their sound but if you are a fan of heartfelt alt-rock with spikey riffs, furious drums and euphoric vocals, Wynona Bleach are the band for you.
Perhaps it was the freedom afforded by recording hundreds of miles away from their home city and all its distractions or maybe removing the solo burden of production/mixing responsibilities from Jonny Woods was the catalyst. Regardless of the exact reason, Moonsoake is a stunning release that draws on the band’s past successes but ultimately surpasses them.