Camden Electric Ballroom, London
Ask anyone about the and they'll say "Didn't one of them go out with Zoe Ball?" Ask them about their music and they fall silent. Not the best reference for an up-and-coming Indie band, but it was this celebrity romance between Ball and singer/guitarist Louis Jones that propelled the band into the public eye, and subsequently the music press, at the beginning of this year. Jones is indeed the archetypal Britpop pin-up - clean, lean and baby-faced with floppy, bottle-blond locks; a bit like Zoe Ball, really.
But tabloid attention has probably hindered rather than helped the ' career. The release of their debut album, Future Signs, was delayed over and over again until, in an appalling twist of fate, its release finally coincided with the breakdown of the Jones/Ball affair. There was no way the public were going to have their interest reignited by something as prosaic as an album release.
The band took their name from Brian Eno's 1973 album, Here Come The , though they don't emulate Eno's experimentalism. Their clean-cut, guitar-driven sound belongs, by and large, to New Wave's third airing, their songs a mixture of The Smiths and Inspiral Carpets. Despite their forward-looking preoccupations - a future of television, answering machines and the Internet - the are disappointingly conservative.
Each song is so neatly arranged, you can hum along within a couple of minutes, and though they have a handful of good melodies - their current single "Hurricane" has anthemic potential - they lack passion and charm. The tempestuous techno-babble of "Future Signs" intimates an air of smouldering wrath, but it is delivered with cool indifference. The amount of strobe flashing present throughout the track suggests that even the technical staff feel it is a bit lacking.
Jones is a reluctant frontman, fixing his gaze firmly past the audience and not stepping more than a foot from his microphone all night. It is difficult to tell whether he is unhappy or simply bored. The only one displaying any noticeable enthusiasm is uberbabe bassist Aki Shibahara, whose sporadic bursts of energy seem lost on her morose cohorts (though keenly appreciated by the slavering teenage boys in the front row).
Momentum gathers throughout the penultimate track, "Never Never" - Shibahara is practically foaming at the mouth and even Jones shows a flicker of excitement and works up a bit of a sweat. For the first time people are really bouncing, and the stage-divers can now fling themselves happily into the throng. But for the most part, the concert passes in a haze of semi-familiar tunes, a few almost memorable but ultimately restrained by the singer's blunted disposition.
Fiona SturgesReuse content