London WC1 Notre Dame Hall

On the likes of [B]'The Sweetness Lies Within'[/B] and [B]'The Weight Of The Stars'[/B], they balance the sweet melodies with [B]Hayman[/B] singing like a fly crashing into a window...

In the midst of this glorious apocalyptic summer, [a]Hefner[/a] are found onstage at the Notre Dame Hall looking like they’ve just endured the longest, hottest and most irritating car journey. They stumble on with wobbly legs and what looks like motion sickness. Perhaps they’ve eaten too many sweets.

Opening with an ode to east London, ‘We Love The City’, it’s immediately apparent where Hefner are coming from. Like others caught in the gravitational pull which attracts the bored and dysfunctional, recent graduate to the capital Darren Hayman and crew just want to hide in the hustle and anonymity of the city. As they sing, it’s just the place for the timid – [I]”Only fear can bring us down/But that can only happen in a small town”[/I].

And make no mistake, Hefner are timid.

They might offer a bright, shining pop sound, but their songs are wracked with self-doubt and regret. Girls, chiefly, seem to be the problem. Throughout the night, though, they manage to remain just self-conscious enough to avoid descending into the morbid and grubby world of Arab Strap. Instead, on the likes of ‘The Sweetness Lies Within’ and ‘The Weight Of The Stars’, they balance the sweet melodies with Hayman singing like a fly crashing into a window.

Unfortunately, this might not be enough for [a]Hefner[/a] or their twee compadres. The armoured divisions of Leftfield, Death In Vegas and Godspeed You Black Emperor! are massing at the border, ready to crush these pretty song types under the wheels of their noise tanks. Conceivably [a]Hefner[/a] will survive the onslaught. Tonight they’ve taken indie-pop back to the bedsit and they can hide it there. It’s probably where it belongs.