The indie pop scene is thriving at a rate not seen since its C86 heyday – tonight’s line-up is proof of that. Support comes from Londoners Evans The Death and Tiny Birds, but it’s the album launch show for Leeds-based This Many Boyfriends, proving the capital no longer has the monopoly on the scene.
And it’s no longer cluttered with the samey, Sarah Records-esque, jangly-guitar bands that once seemed to reproduce at a rate of knots. Again, tonight’s line-up is a case in point. Tiny Birds, the relative newcomers, are plugging their new EP, Local History, and while they have plenty of irreverent, silly songs (John Travolta, about a friend’s misguided dance moves) they spike them with a healthy dose of banjo. It’s lively, a million miles from being twee and they go down a storm – even if, as the headliners suspect, much of the early crowd is comprised of their friends. Evans The Death are an entirely different prospect. Signed to one of indie pop’s big players, Fortuna Pop!, their self-titled debut album was released in the spring, and they’ve quickly become one of the label’s star signings. A much darker band, singer Katherine Whitaker’s ice-blonde hair and disaffected drawl satisfyingly round off their scruffy, lo-fi sound. But tonight they’re off par; something’s not quite right and the band who usually gel so well onstage, with banter flying back and forth, seem to be in a hurry to get it all over with. They pep up during Telling Lies but it’s a disappointingly flat set – which makes the insatiably excitable This Many Boyfriends seem even more like hyper puppies.
Their show last month at Old Blue Last proved a useful dose of counselling; just weeks ago they seemed terrified playing in front of a London crowd, but tonight they revel in it. Singer Richard Brooke bounds on stage looking ecstatic and frequently points the mic in the direction of the audience. Their new-found confidence doesn’t end there; their album was only released last week but they’re already introducing new songs into their set. As expected at this stage, they’re cut from the same cloth but pack a bit more of a punch; they sound like them, but more so. That’s not to say they’ve lost their endearing, DIY edge. When his guitarist asks for more sound in his monitor, Brooke scoffs at him and says: “Ooooh!”; this is a band unfussed by minutiae – they make fun music for fun music fans. The lyrics to their self-titled debut read like a love letter to their record collections; Talking Heads, The Go-Betweens and The Pastels all get a look in, as does legendary London indie night, How Does It Feel To Be Loved. Even their name is a reference to a Beat Happening song.
Musically they sit somewhere between The June Brides and The Cribs – all angular guitars and kitchen sink drama delivered in a blunt Leeds accent – flitting between the anthemic (Young Lovers Go Pop) and the more sophisticated, slightly tongue-in-cheek) I Should’ve Been A Communist). One of tonight’s unexpected highlights is neglected album track, That’s What Diaries Are For, which comes to life on stage in a hormonal ball of Los Campesinos!-style shouting, as does recent single Number One; its Orange Juice-style guitars wrapping perfectly around Brooke’s smooth vocals.
Tonight showcased a more confident band now ready to sit alongside the fresh crop of indie pop bands spearheaded by the likes of Allo Darlin’, Standard Fare and Tigercats – but determined to keep having fun.