What do you get if you take an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman… er, an English-Australian (who’s possibly the fourth Hanson brother) and a Japanese-American from the least-populated state in the US? Yes, a lot of sodding immigration papers but, in the case of Red Light Company, you also get a serving of dark lyrical content hiding under glorious geekcore choruses.
What’s that? Their skinniest of skinny jeans in coordinating shades of grey and matching fringes appearing to carry the angst of an entire suburban high school makes you want to sack them off, pronto? Don’t. Freaking. Dare.Launching new club night The Birthday Party at one of Manchester’s newest venues, the London-based quintet make a subdued entrance, but it matters little once we hear their hook-ridden art rock – which could convert the blackest of hearts into a fast-beating melody-fiend.
Frontman Richard Frenneaux sounds like Brian Molko serenading Robert Smith while dressed as an androgynous supermodel, and is in a state of public brooding for opener ‘Meccano’ in which he stresses “Crying out loud, the weekend is over/Push it out, there’s smiles to uncover”. We’re then tipped into the depths of grief for ‘With Lights Out’ where, oozing a harrowing assurance, Frenneaux admits “I can’t rewind/Or even move forward/And that’s alright” before quirky gem ‘Scheme Eugene’ has us running barefoot through the broken social scenes of fearless youth and twisted relationships. After the Arcade Fire lullaby of ‘Arts & Crafts’, the end arrives with the grungey, riff-driven ‘When Everyone Is Everybody Else’. The band departs, leaving a whirring fuzz of feedback echoing their heart-fuck set.
RLC aren’t as uplifting as building a kick-ass Meccano toy – they’re way better; a tangled, emotional Scalextric of border-crossing harmonious guitar pop where there’s definitely a smile at the finish line.