Live Music + Gig Reviews

Coves @ Birthdays, London

13 March 2013

coves When a band oozes the cool of The Kills and can pack out one of Dalston’s hippest venues on a drizzly Wednesday night, you could be forgiven for thinking they might have a little more style than substance. But despite their tender age (the duo from Leamington Spa, yet to release an album, are mere toddlers, having formed less than two years ago) Coves look and sound like a band who’ve been knocking about for ages.

Their 45-minute set is a seductive waltz through shoegaze, garage rock, dreampop, goth…it even touches on psychedelia – all underpinned by Rebekah Wood’s lusty, breathy vocals. She’s got a stage presence to match; she struts across the stage with confidence, rocking out, hollering into the crowd with a megaphone or waving her arms in a hypnotic manner towards the equally hypnotic projections being beamed onto the ceiling. Their influences are hugely varied; you can hear nuggets of Garbage, PJ Harvey, MGMT, Animal Collective, Nico, Sleigh Bells and even Stereolab in there. It could all go so wrong; on paper they’re cluttered and random, spreading their wings too far – but in practice their sound is blissful.

Wood and band mate John Ridgard have a third band member tonight – and countless samples to help them along the way. They’re a hazy whirl of contradictions; Wood is sultry with a 60s girl band look and sound, but their overwhelming theme is far darker than that. There’s an ever present gloom hanging about them, interspersed with an injection of uplifting pop – perhaps influenced by the company they’ve recently kept (they supported Echo and The Bunnymen and TOY have had their remixing mitts on their work).
Cast a Shadow (the title track of last year’s EP) and No Ladder are stand outs, as is their brilliantly twisted take on Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game.

New single Last Desire (being launched tonight) is their perfect ambassador; a shiny pop track roughed up, smothered in swooning 60s psychedelia and an infectious plodding beat – tonight it feels near-perfect and lifts the room sky high, but it’s new track My Heart Stops Beating, that’s the most exciting point of the gig. With just an EP to their name, their short set was impressive but if this glimpse of even newer material is anything to go by, their debut album will be something very special indeed.

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More on Coves
Coves @ Brixton Academy, London
Coves @ The Victoria, London
Coves – Peel
Coves – Soft Friday
Coves @ Birthdays, London