Wunderhorse is pleased to share his debut album, Cub, via Communion Records. Recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, Cub features all Wunderhorse’ singles to date. Cub arrives alongside a live performance video of focus single, ‘Girl Behind The Glass’, filmed at HOXA Studios in North-West London. In the world of music, opportunity rarely knocks twice.
On the face of it, Jacob Slater (AKA Wunderhorse) had everything he’d ever dreamed of. His band, Dead Pretties, were being talked up as one of the most exciting new groups in the country. The handful of tracks the trio had put out were a riot of punk riffs and gobby attitude, and the sweaty bedlam of their shows had record labels lining up, salivating at the prospect of signing the latest great young hopes.
Yet for Slater, all wasn’t well. He’d run away to join the rock and roll circus aged just seventeen and the tolls and temptations of being the frontman of London’s latest buzz band were starting to show. Slater found himself burned out. Something had to give.
Aside from the damage he was doing to himself, on an artistic level Slater knew that the more musically rich, nuanced songs he wanted to make wouldn’t fit into Dead Pretties’ fuzz-toned constraints.
“I was tired of having to get up on stage and pretend I wanted to throw myself around and smash things up every night and sing these intense songs,” he says. “They were good songs, but I didn’t think we’d be able to transition into doing the more introspective music that I wanted to make. I thought it would just alienate people.”
Slater stepped away and took time out to lick his wounds, reflect and reevaluate what was important. Firstly, back to his parents in Hertford, then down to Cornwall, where he took up work as a surf instructor. The sea and the space gave him a new perspective and time to think.
It’s hard to imagine listening back to Cub, but when these songs first started coming together, Slater was worried that he’d blown his one shot at making it as a musician.* Atlantis’ Beatles-meets-Pixies mix of melody and crunch was the first song which, when he played it with the rest of Wunderhorse in an early rehearsal, showed him that turning his back on the music industry might not have been the act of career Hari-kari many might have thought it was.
Butterflies comes to life in a swirl of delicate, spiraling guitars before turning into a gnarled wood of grungy psychedelia that recalls Mark Lanegan’s work with Screaming Trees.
True, Leader Of the Pack might have its origins in the dying days of Slater’s old group, but its frazzled, double-jointed groove is light years ahead of any punk rock thrash. “I wrote that when I was 18, 19 but it never worked out the way we wanted,” says Slater of the track, before adding with a laugh: “I think basically we needed more members to actually play it.”
Three musicians certainly couldn’t have done Purple’s widescreen, Americana-lit sweep justice. A song that features a chorus so glorious that any stadium-filling act would sell their own grandmother to have in their arsenal.
17 is the oldest song here, its bittersweet melody reminiscent of Lemonheads. “I wrote that when I was forming Dead Pretties but it never really went anywhere says Slater. “The album is sort of documenting my adolescence, that bracket of time, so I’ve got that as the earliest bookend to start that process off and Epilogue, the last track on the album was written the day before we went into the studio.”
The life lived between those two points has been a storied one and its scars are there in many of the songs here. Teal’s Lou Reed-like street hussle, the dense psychedelic fug of Poppy or Morphine’s strung-out bliss. Yet songs such as The Girl Behind The Glass’s tumbling melody show multiple perspectives and viewpoints are at work within Slater’s songs, his lyrics are far more complex and layered than first meets the eye.
By the time we reach Epilogue’s meditation on lost innocence and the slow inevitable march towards eternity it’s clear that for whatever reasons he needed to do it, Jacob Slater’s decision to step away from music and remerge afresh as Wunderhorse is a gamble that has paid off in dividends. Not only for him, but most of all for us, the listeners who get to immerse ourselves in Cub.
In noteworthy extra-curricular, Jacob made his acting debut as Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook in Danny Boyle’s new biopic series PISTOL, which arrived on Disney+ in May. 2022 has also seen Wunderhorse performing with the likes of Sam Fender and Foals, before embarking on a worldwide tour in support of Fontaines D.C. (dates below).
CUB is available on limited edition purple vinyl from indie record stores and the official store.