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London Stoke Newington Vortex

These are men for whom self-deprecating sadness comes with ease, who can name a song [B]'Arm The Lonely'[/B] with only the faintest, driest smirk.

London Stoke Newington Vortex

The string of leftover Valentine hearts hanging over the stage are just perfect. The kind of delicate irony, in fact, you'd imagine [a]Savoy Grand[/a] would plant themselves. For these classically unassuming men are the latest band from Nottingham - after the [a]Tindersticks[/a], [a]Bob Tilton[/a], even Six By Seven - united by miserablism. These are men for whom self-deprecating sadness comes with ease, who can name a song 'Arm The Lonely' with only the faintest, driest smirk.



They're also, as it happens, extraordinarily quiet. And slow, deathly slow. So [a]Savoy Grand[/a]'s armoury includes vibes, brushed drums, a severely muted trumpet, a guitar that might as well have one string, and a singer, Graham Langley, whose high and lovely voice can be virtually drowned out by a smothered mobile phone.



Transparently, we're dealing with a very stubborn band trying exceptionally hard to be affecting. Better still, they succeed. If their songs at first seem aesthetically linked to the hushed beauty of Low, closer inspection reveals that [a]Savoy Grand[/a] purvey a very English sadness. The significant pauses and distant tragedies of late Talk Talk are the best correlative, the sort of music that usually feels too fragile to be let out in public. When, in 'Business Is Good', the trumpeter briefly blows a bit harder and makes a vulgarly audible noise, the audience's relief is palpable. Hard to hear, perhaps, but so tense, so naked, it's hard to ignore, too.

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