London Camden Monarch

...songs about being a bird, about asking a friend round to help you fix your house...

They say they hail from Hull but really they've come straight from The Kinks' 'Village Green Preservation Society' by way of Trumpton. Too often tarred with the same fey bedsit brush as labelmates Belle & Sebastian, tonight Salako prove themselves to be far closer to that wayward English pop spirit of XTC or (whisper it) The Beatles.

Sure, their lyrics unashamedly pile on the whimsy - songs about being a bird, about asking a friend round to help you fix your house - but they're bolstered by melodic chicanes and starry tunes that offer perfect escape for minds bruised by urban excess. They're pastoral, but that doesn't mean it's all noodling.

James Waudby kicks into 'The Bird And The Bag' with a slightly distant ferocity, transforming it into a taut, Wire-esque guitar rumble, while both '(Have You Heard) Musicality' and 'The Overhead Projector Theory' are muscular anthems. When they downshift into complex numbers like 'Look Right' it's almost a shame - they're great at their own peculiar garage sound.

Indeed, by the time the beatpop shimmy of 'I'll Be There (When You're Down)' collapses into feedback, Salako can lay claim to being among the finest this green and pleasant land has to offer.

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