The Hoosiers, ICA, London

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The Independent Culture

Sean Rowley has a lot to answer for. The BBC London 94.9 presenter's popularisation of ever-so-slightly naff records from the Seventies and the Eighties unleashed a monster and paved the way for the success of The Feeling and Mika, two of the most ubiquitous and irritating acts of the last couple of years.

With one hit under their belt and the next single, "Goodbye Mr A", already A-listed at Radio 2, The Hoosiers seem destined to follow in their footsteps and have delusions of becoming the retro band it's OK to like.

The three-piece, joined for live appearances by keyboard player Jenn Potter, come on stage holding up big capital letters spelling the group's name, with a lit globe as one of the Os. Martin Skarendahl's bass amp is covered in fur, has a "happy face", and looks suspiciously like Sulley, the furry creature voiced by John Goodman in Monsters, Inc.

They open with "Worst Case Scenario", a track reminiscent of The Cure's most skittish moments, and singer Irwin Sparkes does indeed sound like Robert Smith when he is not drifting into a falsetto worthy of Sparks' frontman Russell Mael.

On paper, The Cure meets Sparks could be a winning combination but, by the third number, "Run Rabbit Run", the appeal is wearing thin, even with some early Genesis thrown in. "Trick to Life", the title track of their debut album, puts an ironic distance on mortality – "the trick to life is not to get too attached to it" delivered à la Justin Hawkins of The Darkness infamy.

Amazingly, The Hoosiers just signed a publishing deal, and will keep the lawyers at Sony/ATV busy since "Worried About Ray", their first hit and the set's closer, borrows heavily from the flower-power classic "Happy Together" by The Turtles. So many reference points, so little time.

Thankfully, The Hoosiers keep it short and sweet, even if their über-ironic encore of Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy" confirms my prejudices about their shortcomings. Mind you, on the Continent there is no such thing as the Guilty Pleasures phenomenon, so The Hoosiers should fit nicely alongside the recurrent oldies from the Seventies and Eighties. Come back Peter Frampton, all is forgiven.

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