Madame JoJo's, London Tuesday, January 12
This basement is packed with more Radio 1 luvvies than Fearne Cotton’s little black book. Squashed into Madame JoJo’s, we begin to sense this is one of those hot tickets we’ve heard so much about. We sit and watch Steve Lamacq stash his beer to go out for a fag and a bartender promptly chuck it in a bin. We doubt he’s bothered though – as one of these Bangor boys’ main advocates he’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little pleased with himself tonight. For a band who look like they’re wearing their dads’ trousers, they’ve certainly got people excited.
That said, opener [b]‘Come Back Home’[/b] has none of the interesting bits that make their ‘hits’ such compelling listening. It’s all very slick, like [a]Bloc Party[/a] after they started to dismantle themselves, and limps in somewhere between [a]The Wombats[/a] and [a]Foals[/a]. They’re not exactly blessed with the gift of the gab, either. They certainly struggle to stop our attention wandering to the woman in front of us who is writing a review describing them as “floating in a fairy-filled fluffy world,” presumably as prep for a future appearance on [i]Loose Women[/i].
We don’t know what to make of this – it swings from high point to low with disorientating speed. [b]‘Something Good Can Work’[/b] is as perfect as indie-pop gets, combining the wistful virginisms of [a]Noah And The Whale[/a] and the floppy-necked jauntiness of [a]Vampire Weekend[/a], but at their worst they sound like the worst bits of [a]Blur[/a] combined with the hellish high-note screeching of a sub-[a]White Lies[/a], [a]Editors[/a]-esque dirge. [b]‘I Can Talk’[/b] is just annoying, but [b]‘What You Know’[/b] has an inspired touch of Maccabees elegance in its arrangement, with just a hint of [a]The Teenagers[/a]’ trademark sleaze to take away the saccharine aftertaste.
That pile-up of references isn’t just neat journalistic shorthand either – as the set progresses, it becomes increasingly obvious that this band were paying such magpie-close attention to the best indie of the last 10 years that they’ve left themselves little room to be discerning – fortunately, ‘chuck it all and see what happens’ is a well-known, if unreliable recipe for pop brilliance. So no, there’s nothing new here, but they’re all the better for it. They’re just a band with some decent tunes. We’re not sure why [i]them[/i], but it’s a neat enough way to continue celebrating the last decade.