London Kentish Town Bull & Gate

The CIA are not beyond suspicion here....

The CIA are not beyond suspicion here. If there weren’t mitigating circumstances, the paranoid British patriot might consider [a]Seafood[/a] an act of aggression, the latest manifestation of US interventionist foreign policy. Annex the brains of a group of upstanding young people, scour them clean of any fondness for their green and pleasant land, then play [a]Pavement[/a] and [a]Sonic Youth[/a] and Sebadoh outside their bedroom windows at psyche-shrivelling volume until all remaining resistance falls – it’s the indie Black Ops mission.

Tonight, though, is not a hostile takeover – all those bands persistently levelled at [a]Seafood[/a] like a terrible accusation might well have seized their brains, but [a]Seafood[/a] know exactly what they’re playing at, and they’re playing it loud. As they frequently remind the audience, this is their album launch, and they use it to show their readiness to move beyond the Book One of the alt-rock correspondence course.

They can bend and buckle a tune – the pure slanted enchantment of ‘This Is Not An Exit’, or ‘Porchlight’ contorting its dynamic in ways to make you blush. They know how to move under a strobe with requisite passion so that it looks like they’re locked in a lions-vs-Christians struggle to tame their guitars. And yes, they understand the need for blurry abstracts of people in fields to be projected behind them.

However, unlike the cheap indie rip-offs that flooded the market a few years ago – flammable imitation Malkmuses, Thurston Moores with badly stitched seams – [a]Seafood[/a] are a robust entity, swerving the dual curses of pallid feyness and rackety thinness. They know how – and more importantly, why – to make some noise, ‘Guntrip’ bearing the studded wristband imprint of Jason Loewenstein, ‘Folksong Crisis’ using flute and guitar crisis to pump ennui into real rage, singer David Line snarling, “I hope this wretched town will fall” like Carrie on Prom night.

You just can’t write them off as wary spooks second-guessing the homeland, when they patently follow their own advice in ‘Belt’ – “Watch yourself – it’s your life”. And against all the odds, it really is. Theirs, and nobody else’s.

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