A youthful individual sporting a mullet strums a guitar under the spotlight, crooning about electrifying kisses and sharp, cutting smiles. Their innate charm has the potential to redeem the reputation of an unfortunate hairstyle.
Jacob Slater, the lead singer of Wunderhorse, a highly talked about band in the UK indie scene, was previously a member of Dead Pretties, a group that disbanded in 2017. Despite being in his mid-20s, his music is filled with pangs of wistful sentiment. In interviews, he has shared that he stopped using drugs after leaving his former band. This may have influenced his writing, which now holds a tender perspective as he reflects on his past and the experiences of his peers with newfound clarity. His underlying message is always one of empathy, whether it be for the tumultuous home life of the protagonist in Purple or the overwhelming sexual encounter described in Butterflies.
Slater’s talent for catchy singalong melodies resonates with a youthful audience, who are not much older than the characters in his songs. As he sings “And we were together when we were 15 /But nothing is real then, you know what I mean?”, the energetic and young crowd in Glasgow is swept away by the feeling of teenage invincibility. They can relate to it.
The debut album Cub came out little more than a year ago, but already a third of the set is drawn from an unreleased second record – a statement of artistic confidence. Midas has a snarling, cascading Dylanish feel, while Arizona’s big-chorus magic should make it a festival favourite come summer. Superman, with which the band close the main set, is an epic ballad that brings early Radiohead to mind.
Is it possible for Wunderhorse to achieve mainstream fame like that band did? It seems like they’ve already outgrown their indie roots, although their fans still adore it. Their encores, particularly their extended version of “Poppy,” highlight the talents of bassist Pete Woodin and drummer Jamie Staples.
Slater’s final performance ended with a powerful roar before leaving the stage. Earlier, he had mentioned struggling with a loss of voice, but it seems he has regained it.