Champs, The Lexington, gig review

Multi-layered sound sets small venue alight

A cocktail of fine musical influences seems to have brought Champs into being, from Stevie Nicks to REM. Nick Drake if he’d played with The Byrds? Fleet Foxes if they’d had their hearts properly broken? Anyway the result, with a dash of indy sensibilities, is fresh and stunningly atmospheric.

Champs, whose magnificent debut album, Down Like Gold, was released last month, are Isle of Wight brothers Michael and David Champion, plus a band that includes a member from fellow Island act The Bees.

A Champs gig is a static affair, with no more than a little swaying from band or crowd even during livelier tunes such as the poppy and paradoxically breezy “My Spirit is Broken” and the hypnotic “Savannah”.

It’s just that it’s all rather trippy, with shimmering vocal harmonies straight out of Sixties California, and keyboard that veers from ecclesiastical on “Too Bright to Shine” to creepy end-of-the-pier vibrato on the heartbreaking “White Satellite”.

Still, it’s a majestically big, multi-layered sound, and though the mic-hugging intimacy of the delivery could get a little lost in a larger space (Champs have just finished a tour supporting The Jezabels), it sets this small venue alight.

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