Sons And Daughters, Scala, London

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The Independent Culture

On the night of a scorching summer solstice, it's not surprising that the mandolin player Ailidh Lennon and the singer Adele Bethel are wearing off-the-shoulder tops, though that's not what you would normally expect from their stripped-down take on psychobilly, the long-lost punk'n'roll genre.

On the night of a scorching summer solstice, it's not surprising that the mandolin player Ailidh Lennon and the singer Adele Bethel are wearing off-the-shoulder tops, though that's not what you would normally expect from their stripped-down take on psychobilly, the long-lost punk'n'roll genre.

Bethel, especially, was in skittish mood, at one point clapping in double time to confuse the audience, something that failed to defuse the dark intensity of the band's music.

On last year's seven-tracker Love the Cup and the new album The Repulsion Box, they have fused White Stripes primitivism with mournful Celtic roots-rock, made all the more compelling by a Nick Cave obsession with relationships of the most dysfunctional kind. On record, this was often obscured by thick accents and vicious noise, but with clear sound and a wired performance we were drawn into their vision.

For Sons and Daughters, the devil was in the detail. The subject of "Red Receiver" was revealed as an obsessed, jilted lover, with the deranged call and response: "Rings around!", "The calendar!"

Bethel commanded the stage despite her diminutive size. For "Monster", she sidled up to her fellow vocalist Scott Paterson to deliver the line: "Psychotic lovers ain't got nothing on you." He was rooted to the spot, though he made up for it with the Gallagher trick of appearing to stare the whole crowd in the eye. Meanwhile, Dave Gow's basic drumming carried the intensity, over which Paterson's slashing guitar style added an extra percussive edge. Lennon alternated between attacking her bass with surprising ferocity and applying Velvet Underground ideas of monotony to the mandolin.

Put together, it made the recent single "Dance Me In" an irrepressible, rhythmic delight, though bettered by the upcoming release "Taste the Last Girl", a demonic take on the early rockabilly shown in The Smiths' "This Charming Man". Sons and Daughters could also take it down, especially when Paterson growled his story of a terrible discovery with its own alarming details in "Rama Lama". This was more effective than Bethel's attempts. She was fine as a wailing banshee or late-night barfly tearing shreds out of her lover, but when her voice dropped to a whisper, it disappeared.

For an encore, they chose "Nice 'n' Sleazy", and gave a stark reading of The Stranglers' own warped take on dub reggae, all the weirder for being sung by a woman. Not only an entertaining number, it showed this band could look beyond early rock'n'roll for their influences.

While on the surface they have little in common with Franz Ferdinand, Sons and Daughters have learnt to strip back extraneous detail - though, of course, you might not always like what you see.

Sons and Daughters play at T in the Park, Kinross, Scotland on 10 July

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