Live Music + Gig Reviews

Drab Majesty @ Chalk, Brighton

8 February 2024

Los Angeles native Andrew Clinco returns under his Deb Demure persona to bring his devotionally tragic, sombre synth liturgies to the south coast

Drab Majesty (Photo: Corinne Schiavone)

Drab Majesty (Photo: Corinne Schiavone)

It points towards the ground and angrily snipes. “Guitar down. Down. DOWN!” The time we feared appears to have arrived. The robots are finally revolting, lording it over us ineffectual, clumsy, fallible humans. The impatient thumb of Drab Majesty’s glacial instigator Deb Demure remains steadfast in its tyrannical descent. Rivulets of cloudy sweat drip from his grease painted cheek onto his immaculate guitar, its coolly reflective surface mirroring his own stage makeup. The gauzy sheen of neon and smog that coats the stage, doesn’t obscure his noticeable grievance with whoever’s mixing the sound at tonight’s show. For Demure, the novelty of live performance seems to have worn off.

Otherwise known as Los Angeles native Andrew Clinco, Demure is a stubborn perfectionist when it comes to releasing faithful recreations of bygone audio for untrained ears. What began as a solo endeavour whilst he was a member of cult rock act Marriages has expanded to incorporate keyboardist Mona D, aka Alex Nicolaou. Hardly renowned for their sanguine charms, as their oxymoronic name attests, Drab Majesty proffer a monothematic form of entitled musical theatre pulled from vaporwave websites with a singular passion for obscure, if occasionally mundane Italo disco and twee indie pop.

Sombre synth liturgies interlaced with ennui ridden lyrics about unnatural desires are hardly a new conceit but these earnest proxies don’t let that prevent them from ploughing forward for nearly an hour in the same rather artificial vein. Whilst the tracks are undoubtedly cinematic in scope and devotionally tragic in tone, they tend to lack sufficient melodies so as to be able to differentiate them from one another. Performing as inhuman avatars whilst singing songs of corporeal anxieties creates a disconnect that they struggle to make work.

It’s only on final track The Skin And The Glove, which benefits from both a sudden change of tempo and an increase in volume, that the night truly feels like it evolves anywhere exciting. Distinctive for its marginal variance, taking cues from string laden late ’80s Balearic house rather than the amateurish Teutonic cold wave that dominated the first half of that decade, it’s a much needed injection of difference, compared to what has so far been a pathos heavy one note affair.

As its key lyric rigidly claims “it’s too late to find yesterday”, but hopefully the nostalgia driven duo will one day decide to stop looking back beyond their years and instead try and search for the horizon of Tomorrow’s World.

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More on Drab Majesty
Drab Majesty @ Chalk, Brighton
Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror