Herman Dune, Xoyo, London

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The Independent Culture

While Herman Dune have been going for over a decade, with a varying line-up, it was around their 2006 album, Giant, that they became favourites on the anti-folk scene. Their sweet, lovelorn, and often rather oddly rhymed lyrics (singer David-Ivar Herman Dune combining Swedish and French accents) bounced over jangly indie pop nicely. And with their new single getting a publicity boost from a video featuring Jon "Don Draper" Hamm befriending an adorable little blue yeti – only the latter, alas, is in attendance tonight – it seems mainstream success might just beckon.

Or not. Anyone new to Herman Dune won't have a challenge playing catch up – the latest album, Strange Moosic, is cut from much the same cloth as their previous three. But while I have affection for their music, this lacklustre live show isn't likely to convince.

Some new tracks are great – opener "The Rock" has a loping easiness that, as its lyrics request, quickly clings on; that new single, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" offers an injection of energy and deserves to be a hit. There are some old favourites, too: the urgent "Your Name My Game" works even without the backing vocals of the record, its tight beat and rapid, chugging guitar topped off by tremulous falsetto from David-Ivar, chicken-dancing across the stage.

"I Wish That I Could See You Soon" is met with a wave of recognition – unsurprising given that it was an "our song" for many a late-Noughties indie romance. Its catchy tune buoys along those gently daft lyrics: "If you wait a little my pretty friend/ until I come back to hold your hand/ we'll be like bugs when they break through a cocoon/ you know, I wish that I could see you soon."

"Walk, Don't Run" is more abrasive; a guitar refrain niggles and vocals are strained. But considering they deliver songs that are so human and recognisable – so full of dry humour and honestly held up neuroses – the band seem strangely reticent, and make almost no effort to engage the crowd. Admittedly, the venue is wiltingly, sweatily over-heated, and the audience flags too. But tonight, sadly, it's because the air-con seems to have packed up, not because Herman Dune are such hot stuff.

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