I Fight Lions : Be Sy'n Wir?15.06.2018 : Recordiau Côsh Records
With Mellt's clipped, exhilarating debut, Mae'n Hawdd Pan ti'n Ifanc, winning the 2018 Welsh Language Music Prize, a clutch of superb inaugural albums from the likes of Y Cledrau (whose Peiriant Ateb was so full of energy it sounded like much of it was written over a stolen afternoon spent on the best rides at a theme park), and a truckload of promise barreling down the road from Adwaith, Los Blancos and Alffa it feels like something is afoot - such is the spark and imagination in these bands that it scarcely matters what language they are singing in, whilst at the same time being a joyful expression of a vibrant minority-language culture that it is Welsh.
Unexpectedly with their heritage, Bangor's I Fight Lions new album offers something different from this abrupt rush of clever, melodic Welsh-language indie. Look in the shadows and Be Sy'n Wir? still has the rock spikiness caught in the band's previous series of releases (for example 2012's Splendid should be filed thematically between Artic Monkeys and the garage-end of Blur's output), but with a new, dominant pop sheen and dynamism. The result is instantly infectious.
Listen and three key elements define the band's subtly refashioned sound, a shift which coincides with their signing to a new label, Recordiau Côsh.
First, Hywel Pitts' vocals have always had the charisma every band craves so as to lift their efforts above the average and mundane, but there is something richer in the way he sings on Be Sy'n Wir? that gives the songs an additional depth. Second the sheer energised glint of the guitar played across the record adds real verve and zest to the music. Lastly the songs themselves are still (just) an irrepressible league above what many of their contemporaries are writing.
From the circus-come-to-town, cabaret ebullience of Diwedd y Byd (End of the World) to the chunky chords of Adweithiau (Reactions) and the swinging, brilliant momentum of Vous Ne Voulez Pas Savoir (You Do Not Want to Know), Be Sy'n Wir? should tug insistently for attention at the sleeve of anyone who is as yet unfamiliar with the band. Even the deliberately radio friendly Calon Dan Glo, with its 80's Van Halen Jump-era keyboard sound, sparkles as it cartwheels past in its album context.
Be Sy'n Wir? has a confident, effervescent spirit. The lyrics are in Welsh, apart from those which are not, which are French - the music is delightful enough that unfamiliarity with either language is no limit; I Fight Lions have delivered a text book dissertation of indie-pop - vital and electrifying - and for its sheer joie de vivre it deserves to retain them a place at the exciting, leading edge of contemporary Welsh music.