Former Disney star enlists The Flaming Lips and Ariel Pink on a thrillingly weird surprise album
The Enemy/The Rumble Strips/New young Pony Club: Xfm’s Big Night Out, Carling Academy Brixton, Londo
The city of London bows down to the sounds of 1960, 1977 and 2038
The Enemy are so bareknuckle stripped-down that they could have arrived here cryogenically frozen since 1977. Tonight, in a series of quantum leaps through rock’s ages, we have come to their Year Zero guitar brutalism via a bunch of antique retro-rockers and a band so ultra-modern that they are suddenly in danger of being dubbed ‘the sound of 2006’.
Only an hour ago, it was 1960 and The Rumble Strips were demonstrating their vintage, brass-warmed rock’n’soul, overtopped by the Beatles-y holler of ‘Handsome’ Charlie Waller. With his scuffed shoes, serially abused acoustic, smattering of tattoos and hungry eyes, Waller looks like he’s just escaped from some ’50s chain gang. Tonight, his jailhouse rocks. The Rumbles are one big ball of magnificent horny bluster; the insistent chug of ‘Alarm Clock’ and the Dexys-drone of ‘Oh Creole’ show us how acoustic instruments can still sound full and red-blooded if smacked like errant children. As set climax ‘Motorcycle’ finds its throttle, a single tom-tom is coated with water then thumped, sending a plume of spray rising cinematically into the air. It’s the sort of hyper-stylised move that doesn’t work unless you have distanced yourselves from the sneerathon that is the early 21st century. The Rumbles have invented their own space in time, and all power to them.
Unusually, though, the most anticipated are first tonight. New Young Pony Club’s signature track ‘Ice Cream’ struts in as the missing link between electroclash and indie dance. Not only is it indicative of what the NYPC do, it also reveals their magpie eye for genre larceny. Newie ‘MAN’, for instance, is an R&B groove, taking lessons from the billowy mid-’90s: the harmony-heavy sound of Eternal or Bobby Brown. It is, claims frontwoman Tahita Bulmer, “a song for people who like indie songs that don’t sound like indie songs. You can dance to it, potentially pull to it.” Add to this the ragga tip of ‘Revolution In The Bedroom’ – a song that somehow filters Midi Maxi & Efti through the new millennium (yes, precisely…), plus the OMD OD of ‘The Bomb’, and what you have is something vaguely terrifying in its eclecticism. A daytime radio brew from days no-one thought sensible to revive.
It’s a night stacked with plunder-heavy futuro-pop, as the crowd’s rapture demonstrates. Long may they continue going back to the future.
Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality
A still-vital John Lydon rages towards retirement on a saucy, scuzzy new album
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (26/8/2015)