WU LYF Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON November 12

WU LYF Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON November 12
The name World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation (aka WU LYF) toes a line between populist implications and insularity. Thus, it does a decent job of encapsulating the UK band's cultish M.O. and atypically infectious sound. Judging by the packed Horseshoe's rabid fist pumping, the band's push-pull dynamic is working.

WU LYF emerged from Manchester with an air of mystery, shrewdly chiding and avoiding the English music press yet still enjoying heaps of critical praise. All of that calculated demureness could get cloying if the four-piece didn't have a record full of growers and anthems.

The outfit recorded their debut in a church and almost everything they do aims upward. Fittingly, singer Ellery Roberts's relied heavily on a haunting organ, adding solemnity to even the most raucous tracks. Vocally, Roberts is working with little more than a gruff bark, but his chanting delivery and general earnestness largely made up for the deficiency. The near-constant sing-along didn't hurt either.

Throughout, drummer Joe Manning slyly moved between Spartan accents and visceral pounding while Evans Kati's incisive guitar did much of the melodic lifting. Denser than pound cakes, "Cave Song," "14 Crowns for Me & Your Friends" and "LYF" played huge. Even grander, "Spitting Blood" managed to tie together light math rock, à la the Foals, and a dash of a cappella.

"Concrete Gold," with its Death Cab for Cutie-evoking melody (see "Transatlanticism"), a writhing "Heavy Pop" and gigantic closer/hit single, "We Bros," showed off the combo's big-room aspirations and chops, boding pretty well for Lucifer and youth in general, and WU LYF in particular.