A cluster of bands trading on music from the past visit Leaf, Getintothis’ Will Fitzpatrick delights in going back to the future.
Ok, during this whole indie rock revival thing, there’s been a lot of talk of shoegaze and a helluva lot of namechecks for My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.
Pedals, reverb, dissonance… you know the drill. By The Sea are very much reminiscent of that particular era of effects-laden guitar pop, although their take is more along the lines of Chapterhouse and their softer-textured ilk.
By The Sea.
Sure, they’re one-paced and derivative (as if that matters by this stage of popular music’s development), but also instantly arresting – the sunniest of plaintively-sung ‘ooh’s are tempered by woozy, layered guitars that drape a disorienting fug over their effortless melodicism.
In short, By The Sea are pretty great, and could quite easily turn into something very special.
Staying handily on topic, Novella‘s entire set is coated in murky distortion, although this adds to their charm rather than detracting from it.
Their songs draw from good old-fashioned Boston college rockers like Blake Babies or Fuzzy, placing them firmly alongside fellow London slackers Yuck and labelmates Mazes in the 90s-referencing stakes.
They’ve been described as ‘dreampop’ in the past, and if the vagaries of that particular term do most acts something of a disservice, it’s arguably an apt description for a band that feels like drinking too much Nightnurse at a particularly awesome Tanya Donnelly show. Fingers crossed they’ll be back.
Then there’s headliners Veronica Falls.
Following a series of notable support slots in 2009-10 (including a slot with Vivian Girls at the much-missed Korova) they’ve amassed a sizeable army of fans, who are out in force tonight.
Opening with album favourite Right Side Of My Brain, the London-based quartet tear through a set of C86-referencing stormers, barely pausing for breath in between.
You could just about tie them in with the likes of Dum Dum Girls if you really wanted to, but the VF sound is far more rooted in post-punk quirks and ‘proper indie’ charm – witness the jangling clatter of ‘Bad Feeling’ for evidence.
There’s also a fair amount of Pixies references – particularly The Box‘s dizzy surf and Stephen’s cheeky theft of the Debaser bassline – that suggest there’s much more to Veronica Falls than your average bunch of Postcard-obsessed shamblers.
New songs don’t reveal any new tricks, but they are more confidently melodic and instant, suggesting that their next album could well be a must-have.
Sure, they’re amongst a cluster of bands bringing back the sort of indie that Britpop was supposed to have killed long ago, but so what?
Leave the approachable sweetness to Allo Darlin‘ and the shameless pastiche to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
Veronica Falls are reclaiming old-skool indiepop as their own.
Main image Veronica Falls. Pictures by Marie Hazlewood.