London Camden Jazz Cafi

... much like the first dog in space they're named after, [a]Laika[/a] seem to be forever orbiting planet pop with nowhere to go...

Sitting awkwardly on the end of a bench occupied by Broadcast, [a]Moloko[/a] and [a]Lamb[/a], Laika have never quite managed to fit in with their peers.

Too dancey to be avant-retro cool, too downbeat and atmospheric for the clubbing masses, too jazzy to have a genuine hit: much like the first dog in space they’re named after, Laika seem to be forever orbiting planet pop with nowhere to go. Tonight, however, they find favour before a sell-out crowd of painfully trendy beard strokers. Perhaps this is where they were always meant to be. For though there are occasional shimmers of faintly menacing brilliance – the cool electronica of recent single ‘Uneasy’ or the twitching modernist groove of ‘Black Cat Bone’Laika never really achieve lift off. What could have been hypnotic veers, instead, towards dull.

Margaret Fiedler does her best at playing the mad frontwoman and looks genuinely weird, her mellifluous, virtually spoken vocals lulling the senses into a happy stasis even though you struggle to make out a word she says. But the band of resolutely ordinary-looking blokes indulge too often in jazzy noodlings with the same loping, ambient breakbeats and swirling keyboards so that every song begins to sound the same – a vaguely morphing bubble of noise.

The crowd, whether because of their lifestyle choice or the music, are quite happy with it all just being ‘nice’. But is that really enough?