London Notting Hill Arts Club

Let's hope they stay the course.

The only real surprise is that it’s taken this long. Like a sugar candy glacier, the arrival of [a]Belle & Sebastian[/a] irrevocably changed the topography of British music. But unlike every elemental force in ’90s music – [a]Oasis[/a], the Manics, Radiohead, bands who, cockroach-like, bred an infestation of musical heirs – it seemed no-one dared take up the glittering triangle and pay homage to the Belles.

Until now. Meet Tompaulin: the first post-B&S band. They’re named after a poet. They are boys and girls, guitars and electric pianos, ’60s fixations and Pulp-like ’90s wryness: six figures squashed into a corner of an arts bar, thrumming with promise. The most direct link to their musical mothership is Tompaulin mainman Jamie Holman, who sings and plays guitar: he’s made videos for the Belles. Tompaulin‘s basic currency, too, has a familiar winsome jingle: pastoral folk, fleshed out by half-a-dozen instruments, exhibiting a love of Love. In songs like ‘Them Vs Us’, you’re unavoidably reminded of ‘Fox In The Snow’.

But there are crucial differences which will stand Tompaulin in good stead when the Belles‘ dog on wheels starts looking more like an albatross. Where [a]Belle & Sebastian[/a] can be fragile children, Tompaulin are more composed adults. In Stacey McKenna, they have a grown-up chanteuse who coos about[I] “graffiti on the bathroom wall”[/I] without fear. What’s more, songs like forthcoming single ‘Slender’, their five-minute finale, borrow heavily from The Velvet Underground and Spiritualized (‘Sweet Jane’ and ‘Angel Sigh’, to be precise), all grubby chugging, sexy tambourine and mesmeric boho cool. It’s a triumphant finish, on a slightly different track and field than they set out on. Let’s hope they stay the course.

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