Wilberforces came to prominence through their two alternative radio hits (“Tidal Waves”, “My Mind Is In My Paws”) from the critically praised debut Haunted, an inclusion in Music.Hype’s NZ Indie LP, and a prolific following in Auckland’s music scene. Vocalist/guitar Thom Burton has had a been a long standing veteran of the local music scene also – from his more recent electronic music exploits as Moppy, through to his breakout work in Yokel Ono (including an A Low Hum tour).
With well-documented problems retaining band members (in particular the case of drummer), Burton and long time collaborator Chris Varnham (The Midnights) have decided to strip themselves back to a simple drums/guitar/vocals combination. Despite this, their sound still retains its melodic, powerful dynamics…and Burton’s sharp tongue still as poisonous as ever.
Their 2011 release Vipassana didn't mark a complete change from their previous releases, but rather a progression; harnessing the expected influences from NZ luminaries Bailter Space, Skeptics and '80s post punk groups Swell Maps and Ausgang to more auspicious nods to the world of electronic music (in particular the dynamics one might take from ambient or trip-hop).
Where Wilberforces have always excelled is the matter-of-fact lyrics from Burton; at times calmly pronounced, at other times vehemently delivered. These are the moments of complete juxtaposition that continue to make Wilberforces’ music exciting – the clash of melodic moments with dark meta-referential overtones; modern society can be awful. Here are all the reasons why. Don’t like what you heard? Tough – it’s been said.