Edinburgh The Venue

The tunes? They shamble. The lyrics? They ramble...

The tunes? They shamble. The lyrics? They ramble. And the audience? They sigh like lustful librarians before lighting the first of a dozen pre-coital cigarettes.

[a]Hefner[/a]’s janglesome muse may be ostensibly tethered to the bedsit sink, but singer Darren Hayman is in search of far more prurient pleasures. [a]Hefner[/a], you see, are obsessed with girls. Girls who abandon them for blokes who drink whisky (‘The Hymn For The Alcohol’). Girls who gleefully refuse to commit (‘Twisting Mary’s Arm’). And girls who tease, torment and bully while playing hop-scotch on [a]Hefner[/a]’s helpless heart (um, every other song).

Yet though songs such as ‘Things We Didn’t Do’ bask in the bruise-purple prose of the rejected, the [a]Hefner[/a] happening is a mercifully twee-free experience. In fact, listening to the new-wavy synth rush of ‘Cure For Evil’ and the hilariously insolent agit-pop of newie ‘Thatcher Dies’ (“ding-dong the witch is dead”), it’s hard to believe [a]Hefner[/a] were ever tagged and bagged as indie no-weights.

Sure, there’s the occasional rattle and strum to appease the swooning hair-slide set. But the ever-expanding [a]Hefner[/a] sound now lurches between queasy folk and twisted Velvets scuzz-pop – the perfect dark, dank medium for these guilty-as-sin confessionals, and yet more proof that this kitten’s claws are sharpening fast.