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The Young Knives: Barfly, Cardiff: Monday, March 13


The Young Knives: Barfly, Cardiff: Monday, March 13

Oxford’s The Young Knives are not your typical indie heartthrobs. Trussed up in suits, bassist The House Of Lords securing glasses on his head with an elastic band, from the front row it looks more like the Two Ronnies stumbled in drunk and clambered onstage.

But then they play. And they’re fantastic. They sound how intellectual post-punks Wire would if they were made of antique tweed and boast lyrics that pick through history with the keen eye of learned scholars. ‘Kitchener’ sees The House Of Lords and brother and frontman Henry Dartnall dub World War One tub-thumper Lord Kitchener “a temp-ta-tion!” in manic chorus, while ‘Here Comes The Rumour Mill’ is crisp English pop with a paranoid, sour-cream centre. True, they skirt the corners of clever-cleverness. But then Henry steps up to introduce ‘Elaine’ as “a song I wrote when I was 14”, and what do you know? It’s a splendidly naive, Kinks-tinged love song that gleams like a polished plum. So it’s goodnight from NME, and hello The YKs: if there’s any justice, poised to become lords of all they survey.

Louis Pattison