Some may call them elder statesmen of the Auckland music scene, be it their previous works as Yokel Ono or in The Midnights respectively. Other seem to lean towards the phrase les enfants terribles because of their no-bullshit attitude. Pretty much everyone agrees however that Wilberforces are one of the most highly-regarded acts to emerge from the “Auckland Underground” (as pithy of a description as that may be.)
From their 2009 debut “Haunted” through to the modern day line up that have joined MUZAI Records (to much excitement/man crushing from those at the label), Wilberforces have first and foremost become synonymous with Thom Burton’s acidic, rasping lyrics of modern culture (the lack of or the complete absurdity of) and the multi-instrumental talents of Chris Varnham – who in his time with the band has been a keyboardist-cum-drummer-cum-whatever needs applying when a member leaves.
That the band can tout they’ve had previous members who have gone on to perform in other widely regarded bands (case point: Street Chant) is pretty neat. That the group have the incredible knack of being not simply another noisy post-punk band but instead an inherent ability to create songs that have a) a pop-skew and b) a dark undertone is neater. Be it politics, transcendental meditation or “huffing Glade”, the dynamics and catchiness of the songs are damn near concurrent with every song the band create.