London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

...an immediate synthesis of high glamour and low debasement, of desperation and resignment...

From 15 feet away, you can smell the perfume – [I]expensive [/I]perfume – singer Tracy Van Dal doused herself with before she stepped onstage. She’s dressed to kill, and when she holds the microphone close to her lips, you’re unsure whether she’s romancing it, or slowly squeezing the life out of it.

Tracy‘s pure torch-song queen, lusciously relating in velvety tones graphic tales of hearts torn to shreds. Last time anyone dusted off this genre was [a]Portishead[/a], but they used that desolate sound to capture some communally felt sense of isolation, of disaffection. Last Night is more (brilliantly) melodramatic, more personal, more given to revenge than wallowing.

Tracy‘s band, various members of Penthouse and Gretschen Hofner, piece together a jagged, lethal cacophony of rumbling bass, echo-laden twang, and scything violin. Songs like ‘Spy’ and ‘Fuck Me Jimmy’ sound like Joan Crawford tumbling off her high heels, down an opulent spiral staircase, an immediate synthesis of high glamour and low debasement, of desperation and resignment.

In the movie in her head, Tracy packs a silver-handled revolver and shoots to kill. In real life, she resorts only to carefully chosen words. But the results are no less fatal.