By any critical measure, the NME’s annual tour package of four thrusting young acts broadcasting their sound to the nation has once again chosen well from a pool of artists who are unheard-of, just-rising or deserving of a step-up now their careers are well the way.
Sadly, however, the usual claims of under-representation feel even more like shovelling snow than usual, with previous successes including Florence and the Machine, Crystal Castles and Azealia Banks seeming very much more like the exception than the rule.
To witness the quartet of all-male, all-white groups appearing here is to have the sense re-affirmed that the UK’s 21 century indie-pop machine serves to play to the depressing maxim that “men should want to be them and women should want to be with them”.
Playing in the opening slot, often reserved for something a bit outré, Birmingham’s Peace proved to be a definitive retro-modernist guitar-pop experience, a lively fusion of Vampire Weekend with added puff-cheeked Madchester sullenness.
Next, London’s Palma Violets managed to recreate and refine the aesthetic of the Libertines without thus far managing to step up to the same level of wayward, overbearing charm, a band who will surely grow into the role of critical darlings; while the Wirral’s Miles Kane, former Rascal and Last Shadow Puppet, is now a solo artist blessed of the type of evocative storytelling wrapped in noisy, blokey rock practised by his old friend Alex Turner’s Arctic Monkeys.
Adopting the same leather-jacketed, feather-cut pose employed by acolytes of Paul Weller (the pair’s co-written "You’re Gonna Get It" stood out), Kane blew a bit of fresh air through a tired aesthetic with the careening hook of "Rearrange", the thrilling heart palpitation beat of "Don’t Forget Who You Are" and "Inhaler’s" signature wildness.
These three artists were blown away, however, by headliners Django Django, a group (half-Scots, hence the added air of homecoming) who have made it to this level with only the gentlest tailwind of hype.
Fortunately the shirtless lads in the audience filed towards the door shaking their heads as the band thundered into the sublime analogue synth crunch of "Hail Bop" and eventually the wildly-received signature track "Default", taking the aesthetic of four men in matching outfits (jumpers, in this case) and turning it on its head with a willingness to employ electronic instruments, broad influences and a touch of collective femininity.
It was wild, glorious experimentalism in this context.