Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Bleached/Sean Nicholas Savage
The Dalston Victoria, London, February 27
Fronted by the 25-year-old and her guitarist sister Jennifer, both previously part of Kill Rock Stars racket-makers Mika Miko, the quartet are in town as a teaser for their upcoming debut album, which they promise is "more pop than punk". There's not much evidence of that tonight beyond brief echoes of Blondie in the infectious 'When I Was Yours' and the Ronettes-style shrieked vocal harmonies that litter their songs. Jangling frantically in and out of surf solos and clattering drums, recent single 'Think Of You' is Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind?' on a boozy palm-tree vacation. 'Next Stop' fizzes with the sort of charisma that suggests Bleached's actual next stop may be the niche success enjoyed by fellow garage revivalists Wavves and Best Coast recently. They're not the finished article yet, and you could argue that they're too in thrall to their class of '77 punk idols, but you get the feeling their wild ride might be about to get wilder.
Tonight's pop quota is filled by spindly support act Sean Nicholas Savage, whose stock-in-trade is '90s R&B hooks sung over Casio keys and lo-fi bossa nova beats. Once labelmates with Grimes on Canadian imprint Arbutus, he shares her eclectic style and breathy, off-key vocals. On tracks like 'Days Go By' he sounds like cult icon Daniel Johnston, drunk at a wedding, doing Usher covers. With his leery whispers to the crowd – "You all look a million dollars, all of you" – and axe-murderer demeanour, Savage treads the fine line between sexual and sinister. In fact he doesn't just tread it, he moonwalks down it in a skin-tight shirt and Freddie Mercury moustache, dazzling every step of the way.
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