Kingsbury Manx, Pavilion Theatre, Brighton

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The Independent Culture

Some people just don't look like they should be in a band. This is sadly the case with The Kingsbury Manx, perhaps with the exception of the drummer, who at least has long hair. But appearances can be deceptive. Any notion that we are watching a group of kindergarten teachers indulging their teenage passions are immediately expunged as the band embark upon an hour of almost consistently breathtaking pastoral folk rock.

These five men, each of them in their late twenties, hail from Chapel Hill, a college town in North Carolina where they went to school together. Last year their eponymous debut album was greeted ecstatically in the UK though was largely ignored at home. This year's Let You Down has consolidated their position as peerless practitioners of lo-fi pop and, judging by the turn-out, has fortified their fan base over here as well.

The band specialise in drowsy, antique-sounding melodies that are brought to life with velvety harmonies, psychedelia-tinged guitars and Scott Myers's balmy keyboards. There's nothing revolutionary about their sound. This lot wear their influences on their sleeves; the spirits of Brian Wilson, The Velvet Underground, Simon & Garfunkel are ever-present. But the familiar nature of these songs make them all the more soothing.

With the exception of the frontman – and I use that term loosely – Kenneth Stephenson, there's little in the way of interaction with the audience. They prefer a shuffling no-frills approach. It's not that the band aren't enjoying themselves, but you can't help but wonder if they remember we're here at all. The bass player, standing with his eyes closed and his head nodding, looks positively catatonic from start to finish.

But you can't begrudge their lack of charisma. The songs are works of rare beauty that send ripples of delight through the audience. These are nice, shy-looking boys with nice, shy-looking fans. They're never going to set the world on fire, but they do at least bring a glorious warmth to your belly.

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