Barfly, London

Music review: Night Works - An 80s-obsessed guitar-pop band with electronic tendencies

3.00

 

Pity the poor bassist who leaves a band for a solo venture on the eve of his former group’s big breakthrough. For such is the fate of Gabriel Stebbing, frontman of Night Works and former bass/keys man in thoughtful, wonky electropop merchants Metronomy.

He left Joseph Mount’s group to focus on his brittle, arty guitar band Your Twenties two years before Metronomy got nominated for a Mercury for the excellent "The English Riviera", an sonic tribute to Steely Dan and '70s studio rock filtered through a love letter to the West Country. The last time I saw Metronomy play at London, it was at Brixton Academy. Tonight, the sweatbox of the Barfly is, while respectably full, not exactly rammed for Stebbing's new venture, Night Works.

And yet he looks delighted, suavely bobbing his head (complete with guitar face) through the groovy bits, pumped through the poppy bits, and working his pastel pink blazer like there’s never been a ’90s.

Because, yes, Night Works are yet another ‘80s-obsessed guitar-pop band with electronic tendencies. Before you cast them into that particular surplus mountain of the mind, though, know this: their songcraft is a cut above, which is particularly apparent live, where guitars and bass feel more at the core of the tunes. Also, rather than sticking purely to the well-established touchstones of hipster Hall & Oates and hipster Prince, it throws a new element into the mix: hipster Prefab Sprout!

This works, on the smooth, sweet "Modern European" so much better than you might imagine, and that modernist guitar pop heart is what lifts Night Works above your average retro synthpop stylist.

The twinkling "Boys Born In Modern Times", though its synths tend towards the 80s-fetishism of Neon Neon, is resolutely melody-focused, while "Nathaniel" is a return to the Sprout at their dreamiest, all pastel-toned and winsome. It’s all most agreeable, loveable even, if not exactly road-to-Damascus stuff.

The most interesting moment comes at the end, where, after mentioning Jack Savidge from Friendly Fires (a man who knows his dance) making an upcoming appearance at their club night, Stebbing closes with a version of "Long Forgotten Boy" that eases its angular rhythms out into an expansive groove with distinct disco touches, morphing into something oddly reminiscent of Moloko’s Balearic blissout period. It suggests a life for Night Works’ well-honed songs beyond pastel pastiche. He should definitely hang on to that pink blazer, though.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk