POP & JAZZ
Saturday 23 August 1997
Arab Strap, London, Kings Cross Water Rats (0171-837 7269) Fri
The cancellation of Monsters Of Rock this year has meant Reading Festival is doing its best to cater for devotees of hairy noise on the main stage. But those hoping to escape Metallica, Terrorvision, Bush et al could do worse than head for the Doc Marten stage, which will host the joyous, spiky pop of Sweden's Girlfrendo.
The Gothenburg trio of Jo, Sara and Per threaten to be one of the highlights of the day, if their effervescent teen-noise on record is anything to go by. The pogoing chorus and jagged-edge attitude of "Love Bite" gained them Radio One support from Steve Lamacq and John Peel, the latter offering them a session.
But back in Gothenburg, Girlfrendo have to deal with the fall-out of being championed first in Britain. Luckily, they had a bouncy sense of humour to handle it at recent Swedish festivals Lollipop (David Bowie, Johnny Cash) and International Pop Underground.
"It's harder to play in front of Swedish people," muses Sara. "They like everything professional. They hate us! We only got to play Lollipop because they heard we were playing Reading. They think we are big in England."
The mischievous giggles of Jo and Sara make it obvious they secretly relish a little hometown animosity. But one person cannot give his side of the story. Per, a Pet Shop Boys and New Order fan, is absent for the interview. "He likes to think he is in control of the band," the girls laugh. "He writes the music, and we write the lyrics. We really are professionals; we have been working hard to harmonise our vocals," Jo says with mock seriousness.
Slickness is a long way off yet. At the moment, attitude and a healthy naivety stands alongside the singalong pop. "At our gigs, the first half is horrible. Then things are fine and the second half goes too quickly. We like the adrenalin, and people looking at us."
GIG HIGHLIGHT The chaos that underscored Arab Strap's previous London appearance as support to Mogwai will probably encourage hordes of potential new fans to check out these bleak- humoured Scots. Literate, post-Trainspotting humour from indie hipsters not averse to a little liquid refreshment.
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