Pull Tiger Tail, Club 229, London

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The Independent Culture

A new year brings a fresh tranche of hotly tipped artists, most of them having releases out no later than spring. This acclaimed trio, though, are keeping their powder dry.

Pull Tiger Tail were mentioned in dispatches this time last year and not only because they once shared a flat with the Klaxons. The band that dropped out of arty Goldsmiths College to pursue their own vision of cutting-edge pop came with their own punchy, promising early singles.

Formed in Stratford-upon-Avon, the band became fixtures on the south London scene but have spent much of the past few months working on their debut album, originally pencilled in for release last September. Tonight, they break cover in the unlikely environs of a student hall, a cafeteria with added bar. You can almost touch the ceiling even without the aid of the rostrum that passes for a stage. Two strappingly built members, the singer and guitarist Marcus Ratcliff and darkly handsome bassist Dave McKenzie-McConville, seem to find their moves a little restricted.

Their sound is immediately imposing, under-pinned by the emphatic delivery of drummer Jack Hamson. PTT's mix of synths and guitars adds a futurist sheen to their powerful tunes. McConville and Ratcliff use keyboards to create hard-hitting, danceable melodies, although they aren't afraid to rock out. The vocalist's forceful, almost soulful, manner is surprising given his foppish looks.

Rather than lay out a road map of where the band are headed this year, tonight is more of a reminder of where they've come from. Early releases "Animator" and "Mr 100 Per Cent" are in the set, the former's post-punk, neatly clipped guitar showcasing the threesome's ability to forge new shapes as it contrasts with Ratcliffe's soaring vocal. Better still is "Hurricane", the summer single that suggested PTT might yet break through to mainstream acceptance.

Less familiar material struggles to compete, especially as much of the rest of the set is at a slower tempo, apart from "Tom Waits For No Man", which, in spite of its cheesy title, is an effective slice of pop punk, with an insistent chorus set against introspective verse. The rest is intriguing, though difficult for a Friday-night party crowd to stomach. Best of the bunch is the brooding yet melodic "It's About Destruction", where Ratcliffe gets in a lather about people dying.

That comes neatly just before the giddily uplifting "Let's Lightning", where he lets out his frustration as he chides: "Aren't you sick of being automatic?" It's refreshing to hear such a dramatic change in tone from a young outfit. Success is never automatic, but you sense good times ahead.