The Little Ones: Dublin Castle, London, Tuesday, January 30

It’s cold outside but in here it’s one big sunny, Californian love carnival

“E Y-OOOOO!!” California’s The Little Ones clamber onstage beaming like the politicians that just got the Cheeky Girl and calling all guitar-pop lovers within five-miles to Club Fandango to mate. And, in their hundreds, they come: jiggling pop kids, impress-me-bitch scenesters and a hefty swathe of ‘industry’ desperate for some uncomplicated pop relief after a hard day pretending to like that fuck-awful Horrors album.

Bursting with the jubilance of a death cult on Mothership Day into new single ‘Oh, MJ!’ they’re immediately out surfing Hammond organs on Collegepop Beach, gradually bubbling to a crescendo of warped psychedelia like Grandaddy spontaneously combusting. ‘Cha Cha Cha’ is Kings Of Leon’s ‘The Bucket’ if said bucket had been full of industrial grade uppers and ‘Lovers Who Uncover’ is so splattered in joyous “Ey-ooooo!”s and “YeahyeahyeahYEAH!!”s that it lures you into its flower-painted fun bus and bundles you off to a reprogramming centre for ‘induction’. They’re a veritable Sesame Street of scintillating pop hugability, brought to you today (you suspect) by the letters M, D and A.

So far, sniff the cynics, so Clap Your Hands Say ‘Mandy’!, but while The Little Ones slot effortlessly into the grand tradition of ’60s-smattered US guitar pop they do it better than any band in… ooh, a good 15 years. And, off-roading from their stupendous ‘Sing Song’ mini-album, singer Ed Reyes beckons us into darker, more tangled territory: ‘Gregory’s Chant’ is a shape-shifting spectre of a Zombies tune, opening like ‘Strawberry Fields’ going to the circus, before the stop-start jerk-pop in the middle and an ending that sounds like someone hitting a dog with a robot. But then we might have hallucinated it, overdosing on these wondersongs being projected on to our primal brain stem. Cuddly yes, wuddly certainly, but for such Little Ones they pack a mighty pop wallop.

Mark Beaumont

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