London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

[B] Chris T-T[/B] mixes a damned compulsive stool-rock cocktail.

He sings like a softer Billy Bragg, writes songs as naggingly addictive as Guided By Voices and isn't averse to burying his pristine melodies under pin-sharp squeals of feedback should the whim take him. Oh, and he's written a neat little ditty called 'Dreaming Of Injured Popstars', wherein he fantasises about torching an unsuspecting Kelly Jones. But just when you've got Chris T-T pegged as the latest guitar-toting jokester, he well and truly tugs the metaphorical carpet from under your feet.

Tonight's songs are broader in sound and tone than his current single, the winsome 'You Can Be Flirty', might suggest. While that track displays Chris' knack for grin-inducing wordplay (speculating, "I bet Robbie Williams was a teacher's pet at school"), it scarcely prepares you for the claustrophobic domestic violence of the tear-stained 'Send In The Clowns', chilling in its resigned regret, its impotent self-disgust.

Closer 'Sideshow Mel' pursues this darker strand further, an almost forensically poetic examination of dying love, Chris thumbing idly through icons of glamour and murmuring, in character, "I don't even jerk off", before the taut riff he's been singing over unravels and disintegrates into a positively cathartic wall of white noise. A wry smile, a white-knuckle ride, Chris T-T mixes a damned compulsive stool-rock cocktail.

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