Remember when Indie pop was made by indie kids trying to be pop, rather than pop kids trying to be indie?...
REMEMBER WHEN INDIE POP WAS MADE BY indie kids trying to be pop, rather than pop kids trying to be indie? When instead of attractive, fresh-faced sorts like Robbie Williams and Natalie Imbruglia, it was made by college graduates who looked like they’d had sex as infrequently as you had? Well Theaudience are those people. Only, with the exception of Sophie, they’re old enough to remember when they were fashionable. And just like their predecessors, they’re considerably better at the idea of pop music than the reality of it.
Therefore we have an impeccably conceived band, where even the blokes manage to look adequate, and Sophie has more charisma than should strictly be expected. You sense they have bigger ambitions than that, though, to make cerebral, wry, witty, but elegant and stylish guitar pop. They almost succeed on several occasions here, but ultimately you can’t help feeling that, to paraphrase the single, they know enough but they can’t do enough to make us really care.
And yet, they set themselves up to be loved or hated in a number of ways, starting with the pretentious name, Sophie’s over-sultry vocal style, and the fact that Clever Titles Don’t Necessarily Make Clever Music.
The frustrating thing is that you keep hearing fleeting hooks and snippets of touching tunes, but then they meander and mooch away from it, pondering and posing and twisting in the wind.
Singles like ‘A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed’ and ‘I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough)’ are half-decent jangle pop songs, but they’re so fucking [I]polite[/I]. They shimmy around but never really shake, like on ‘Now That You Are 18’.
They fare better with slower, more melancholy emotional territory like ‘Keep In Touch’ and ‘Mr Doasyouwouldbedoneby’, because even on the most upbeat stuff, like ‘Running Out Of Space’, they are simply too effete to really put any heart into it. If ever a band were afraid to rock, it’s this one.
Maybe they’re just too tasteful and intelligent for such base instincts. Which is fair enough when they string the odd decent line together – ‘If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young’ and ‘I Know Enough…’ are engagingly smart. But when they start listing the marking system of monthly magazines on ‘I Got The Wherewithal’ – to wit, [I]”Three stars is undulating, two stars is uninspiring, one star is unpalatable”[/I] – Oscar Wilde’s arse looms large on the horizon.
Finally, on the six-minute ‘How’s That’, they abandon the song to disappear into would-be space-rock territory. Good attitude, possibly, but it’s so half-arsed it’s like Sunday school teachers getting carried away after taking a tenth of an E.
Alas, ultimately Theaudience appear to be far more important people to entertain and amuse than their audience. These sound like songs about songwriters and songwriting, full of wit and winsomeness, signifying very little beyond clever wording. Cheers.