wych elm have finally returned. After two years of anticipation following the release of debut EP Rat Blanket, it might have been a concern to some that not a peep of new music was heard from the Bristol band. For those alarmed by the radio silence, new single ‘Scold’s Bridle’ should be enough of a sign that the band are not just alive, but are packing more energy than before.
The new track marks the first taste of upcoming EP Rabbit Wench and delves into many of the characteristics that were witness on wych elm’s previous output while also breaking new ground. The vocals on the track begin in a more atypical, hushed fashion before breaking out into the trademark rasp around the chorus, showcasing a canny understanding of dynamics and also how visceral they can be at the peaks of their songs. Accompanied by guitars that soar and a rumbling rhythm section, it feels as though the time spent brewing these new songs and inducting new band members have allowed the group to take everything that made their early work so gloriously twisted and really hone it into making something that delivers an even stronger gut-punch.
Like much of their debut EP, there is a morbid theme surrounding the content of the lyrics, which refer to the archaic torture device of the scold’s bridle, used to silence and humiliate women. The way in which vocalist and songwriter Caitlin Elliman uses this as a device to speak of her own experiences of harassment and being silenced in the modern day is at once arresting and emphatic. wych elm are not going to be silenced in the same way; in fact, you can only hope that this is the sign of them getting louder. Welcome back, wych elm.
Words: Reuben Cross // Photo: Martin Thompson
‘Scold’s Bridle’ is out now, self-released by wych elm on their Black Dog label. Purchase and stream the track via Bandcamp.