Metrovavan : Retrofitting

Ideal stuff, in fact, for clubs where the wallflowers rule.

Steel your nerves: Metrovavan aren't a Belle & Sebastian spin-off, but a spin-off from a Belle & Sebastian spin-off. A nightmare vision of the twee quotient increasing as talent slumps, you'd think, especially as Metrovavan's sole member, one Scott Twynholm, features in the sickliest of that breed, Looper.

Fortunately, and even though he ambles through similar territory, Twynholm is much more talented alone. 'Retrofitting' revolves around a single, bizarre musical conceit: that the most macho of musical forms - hip-hop, big beat, electro - can be softened and remodelled in indie-friendly pastel shades. It's a treacherous business and, like Looper before them, Metrovavan are often in danger of the most unspeakable fate; of sounding like a fey Bentley Rhythm Ace.

Get past the predictable retro-futurist kitsch and two tracks where Twynholm has a consumptive stab at singing, however, and there are delicate pleasures buried here. Twynholm's evidently something of a Francophile and has the good taste to mimic Kid Loco, Gallic master of the art, on the arch 'A Parisian Taxi Ride In November' and 'French Lessons', and especially on 'Retrofitting''s highlight, 'Keep Breathing'. Fractured jazzbo grooves, analog synth wheeze, even a little dissolute scratching; it's not quite as sophisticated as Metrovavan think, but gently beguiling for all that. Ideal stuff, in fact, for clubs where the wallflowers rule.

John Mulvey
6 / 10

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