The Long Blondes, Liquid Room, Edinburgh <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

How The Long Blondes must have cursed their touring schedule, when they realised they would get to enjoy neither Valentine's night with their significant other nor a seat in front of the telly watching the Brits. In the case of the awards show, the band might have been thinking they'd throw their own party in the absence of an invite.

Undoubtedly, The Long Blondes - in particular, the statuesque lead singer Kate Jackson - would have brought idiosyncratic glamour to the Brits. Perhaps a fuller back catalogue might yet see them make an impression on such a stage. That is, after all, part of the Blondes' raison d'être - the three-girl, two-boy band provide a feminine touch sadly underrepresented in an indie genre ever more populated by clean-cut boys singing interchangeable guitar anthems.

Were their gender mix the only thing to define them in an increasingly crowded market, they would be rightly worthy of dismissal. Fortunately, they're also a smart and infectious pop band whose show is both entertaining and good-natured - a million miles from those drab crooners unfortunately miscast as edgy, soulful femmes fatales.

Without doubt, Jackson is the star of this particular rock show. She can't really fail to make an impression, tottering on the highest of high heels, clad in tiny brown dress-shorts, a smart flower-print shirt and a demure neck-scarf. The boys love her, of course, but it's the girls who really go wild for her. Most of the crowd are similarly fashionable student-age girls, and they seem to hold Jackson in the same awestruck regard that they might a really cool big sister.

In this respect, the rest of the band - try as they might to disguise it - are functional window-dressing. The keyboard player and bassist, Emma Chaplin and Reenie Hollis, pretty girls both, pale in Jackson's shadow, while the guitarist Dorian Cox and drummer Screech Louder (a ringer for Jack Osbourne) are hard to notice.

They each do their jobs well, but it's Jackson's look that has won them big photo-shoots in fashion mags and music rags. If anything, she seems too nice, her bashful proclamation that the crowd are "lovely" suggesting that her sassy persona as the lost Slit is something of a pose.

Musically, the insistence of their rhythm section is a defining feature, the bass pounding over the light and tuneful pop anthems to youth and empowerment, such as "Lust in the Movies", "Weekend Without Makeup" and the delightful new single "Giddy Stratospheres".

Then they finish with the yearning tale of long-distance love, "Separated By Motorways" - and there's no encore. It's unusual for a band to so thoughtfully leave the fans wanting more rather than assuming that they do, but I hope there will be plenty of opportunity for The Long Blondes to provide a larger-scale follow-up next time.

Touring to 9 March, including dates supporting Kaiser Chiefs ( www.longblondes.com)

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