El Presidente, Kings College, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

El Presidente don't deal in mere earworms. They deal in ear-serpents, which still, lucrative local legend has it, stalk the waters of a certain Loch not far from the band's Glasgow home. They haunted Dante Gizzi for years. He'd left the rock'n'roll thing behind (after a spell in the unlamented Gun, a metal act chiefly known for their cover of Cameo's "Word Up"), and taken a job in a restaurant, but every time he washed the dishes, these monstrous melodies would be staring up from the water, challenging him: "Write us. Record us."

And he did. El Presidente's debut album should come with a health warning about addictiveness: a dozen once-heard-never-forgotten songs which are, due to killer hooks and a ruthless don't-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus structure, instantly familiar. Within one verse of "Without You", "If You Say You Love Me" or current single "Rocket", you're singing along, convinced that you must have heard them before.

In some cases, that's because you have. "Turn This Thing Around", the next single (due in February and, I'd wager, El Pres's first Proper Hit) has loud echoes of Ottawan and Elton John. If you're already a fan of the joyous playfulness of Scissor Sisters - and oh, how bored El Presidente must already be with being described as "a Scottish Scissor Sisters" - or Electric Six, then you shouldn't have any problem with the concept of a band who devour the least-cool, most-catchy moments of vintage pop and regurgitate them in new, irresistble shapes. (Absence of cool is key: I was originally going to describe EP as "T Rex meets Chic", but that's too credible, too hipster. The truth is far more Route One, far more populist, far more classically British: they're Slade meets Hot Chocolate.)

It takes a degree of audacity to front an act as shamelessly POP as El Presidente, and Dante Gizzi has got it. A superfly guy with the Scottish-Italian handsomeness of the young Tom Conti and the impervious-as-battleships confidence of Paolo Maldini when he steps out onto the San Siro (which says "not only am I gorgeous, but I can perform").

He's not alone: every member of El Presidente (notably the dreadlocks and cheekbones of bassist Thomas McNiece and the exquisite Oriental features of drummer Dawn Zhu) has star potential. It's as though an evil scientist has dipped into the West of Scotland gene pool to select the five individuals with the optimum combination of physical attractiveness and musical ability.

Another job done, another crowd converted, they end with a cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret", amid a chaos of strobes and handclaps. The thunder drowns out what the lightning sees, and from where I'm standing, Dante Gizzi feels like a movie star.

Carling Academy, Birmingham (0121 262 3000), tomorrow