Music: Sentenced to thrill

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The Pecadiloes

Dingwalls, Camden, London

If the goofy misspelling in The Pecadilocs' name has any purpose at all, it should serve as a warning not to take it at face value. Neither a minor misdemeanour or a trifling lapse in judgement, this Bedford-born foursome take daring risks and end up with something so feral and addictive it's probably criminal. Not a peccadillo at all, in fact.

Survivors of a ferocious A&R scrum last year, they mix and match from so many clashing, often risky sources that you expect the result to be some kind of bungled musical heist. But every potential glitch has a glorious edge to it. The bolshy "U.S.S.O.", one of their early singles, would sound like Elastica if it weren't for its warped, wired imagination. Imagine an intensely cranked-up Portishead merged with Radiohead's capacity to explode from lush, melodic and sweet to brattish and sniping, complete with theremin wails, sci-fi synthesisers, psychotic loops and lots of stadium-sized guitar abuse. Sound scary? You should see their videos.

Tempestuous and exhilariting live, they thrive on a wilful courting of contrasts. Having two singers is a good-looking way of avoiding those jealous hissy fits that plague relationships between guitarists and singers but, more importantly, both already look and sound like stars,

Short, skinny and topped by a blaze of red hair, guitarist Nick Mailing looks like a cross between David Bowie and Thom Yorke and has the yearning, stretched voice to match. To his left, lanky bassist, Elliot Walsh has a mouthy bawl to go with his prominent check-bones, eyeliner and taste in skeletal chic.

If that makes them sound like far too terribly serious young men - "Goths", even - it's belied by the passionate, splenetic airing they give to songs off their forthcoming debut album, Caught On Venus. The current single "The Wanting Song" starts with a shuffling low-down vocal rasp over some deceptively cute, wincome keyboards, then lurches testily into a grandoise chorus on a raging guitar loop. Circles opens with a shimmering wah-wah guitar and a tinkly, echoing keyboard from programmer Ian Campbell before shifting into a spit-and-snarl chorus, mixing an all-elbows robo-punk white noise with a tainted lilt similar to Radiohead's "Subterranean Homesick Alien".

Most of these songs are as thrillingly duplicitous as they are infectiously catchy. When Nick snarls "ever get the feeling that you're sinking" in "The Wanging Song" he twists his body into it with such wiry, malicious intent that it seems as much an accusation as a plea. Likewise, "Kirsten's Beach" could be a slice of ham balladry every bit as drugged up and ditzy Jane's Addiction's flowery "Summertime Rolls" if it were not for its subtly discordant keyboards and gnarled vocals.

This is about as far from the three-chord indie pop equivalent of a comfort blanket as four boys in their early twenties with loud guitars can get. Returning for the encore, Nick mumbles sarcastically, "You're lucky we got a lot of good songs."

They have and we are, so just to be difficult they play an instrumental, as if to say: "And if you come back next time we might play them." Chances are people will. On the strength of this brief, fiery statement of intent, it's safe to say that , aren't so much a passing blunder as a life sentence.