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Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

If it takes courage to make a fool of yourself, then [B]Eliza Maria Geirsdottir[/B] - singer with Iceland's [a]Bellatrix[/a] - must be the bravest woman in music.

Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

If it takes courage to make a fool of yourself, then Eliza Maria Geirsdottir - singer with Iceland's Bellatrix - must be the bravest woman in music. As upbeat as the rest of her band are sullen, she moos like a cow, dances like a drunken cheerleader, giggles, downs whisky, rolls her eyes, and underlines every utterance with an emphatic waving of arms that suggests an unhealthy knowledge of Steps videos.

Such antics, though, don't preclude seriousness. Below their whooping exterior, songs like 'This Boy Will Be Mine' and 'Tamed Tiger' are filled with neat dissections of gender politics and snide put-downs. It just takes a while to register. And if their lyrical nature is temporarily masked, something similar happens with the music. At first glance - especially on the dull clanks of 'Madness' and 'Always' - this is simply average indie. Or it would be, if they didn't sprinkle around enough magic dust to turn the rest of their songs into twitching, jittery rushes of sound that hinge on lunatic changes of pace. Sometimes they play with Stereolab keyboard motifs, occasionally they toy with weird rhythms, and to cap it all Eliza frequently thrashes away at her violin like the whole thing is a distinctly odd Nordic hoedown.

Whatever they do, it works. 'The Girl With The Sparkling Eyes' mixes serenity with oddball rock growling, 'Jediwannabe' throbs with sparkling disco and the finest guitar scratching, while new single 'Sweet Surrender' is fleshed out from the record's sub-Sundays strum into a riot of panicky drumming and swirling obsession. These songs are then made even more bewitching by Eliza's vocals roaming the octaves like a militant rambler exercising the right to access.

Not afraid to fall - metaphorically - flat on their arses, they make the mundane seem exotic and infused with leftfield spirit. With most British guitar music currently mired in the average and unadventurous, Bellatrix have got a glint in their eye, a yodel in their throats, and a finely-tuned sense of how the ridiculous can be sublime.

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