They’re still sombre, but the Manchester pop duo flirt with optimism on a fist-pumping third album
Live review: New Young Pony Club/Chew Lips/Lyrebirds/Teeth
O2 Academy Islington, London Monday, February 22
One listen to ‘The Optimist’ is enough to make anyone who harboured such views force-feed themselves a radioactive glowstick in shame. And don’t the band know it. Tonight Tahita Bulmer, flicking her horse-mane hair like Indiana Jones cracking a peroxide whip, has an elegantly confident stride that suggests she falls out of bed on to Wembley Stadium’s stage every morning – despite the fact that tonight they’re debuting much of the album for the first time.
If up-and-comers Teeth (laptop-frottaging yell-athon), Lyrebirds (stirring gloom-rock hooking ducks in White Lies’ fairground) and Chew Lips (electropop architects of the formidable ‘Solo’) were expecting to upstage the bride, they were sadly misguided. Indeed, the confidence has seeped from Ty’s silver shoes to the setlist she looms over; they open with new cut ‘Chaos’ and she declares the band will be playing “quite a lot of” ‘The Optimist’ tonight in full knowledge that half the crowd here are already holding out their bowls for ‘Ice Cream’. The former song’s dark dance pound is winning from the off, while another newie, the synth-abusing ‘Dolls’, soon follows with a similarly pounding impact.
Old ‘Fantastic…’ favourites ‘Hiding On The Staircase’ and ‘Ice Cream’ – previously such blatant highlights they carried the threat of being set-shadowing burdens – simply sound like fun-funk interludes, such is the dark dance depth of the new material.
“New Pony Club, new danger,” Ty declares before the new album title track, full of warped U2-when-they’re-actually-amazing throbs in. They end the set not with ‘The Bomb’, nor their cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘Dress’, but with newie ‘We Want To’, the biggest tune on an album that hasn’t been heard by anyone in the room except those who’ve seen the band members in the shower. That it garners a response as if someone’s just hijacked the PA and mainlined ‘Blue Monday’ through the stacks is testament to how far a little optimism gets you.
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