Mens Adventures / Superfood / Blackeye / Sisters, Birthdays, 25 March 2013

You can’t get through a night at Birthdays without it being somebody’s birthday, and tonight it’s the turn of the singer/guitarist of Sisters. And he hasn’t picked a bad way to spend his birthday.

Sisters’ sound constitutes a bit of a distortion attack. They are noisy, bass-heavy and rhythm-strong, but with high-pitched boy/girl duet vocals that blend together to bring a bit of order to the messiness of the rough and ready guitars.

As openers they hold some of the nerves of a young upstart band, but already their sound is holding attention.

Next on, Blackeye bring a little extra character to the stage. Their performance is lit up by lead singer Chloe Little’s wide, expressive eyes. The mood of certain lyrics and certain tracks is struck with a sideways glance or a cold glare into the audience.

Blackeye are a punk band strapped firmly to the great things about pop: catchy melodies, a sense of fun, and just a little bit of cheesiness. It’s a wonderful asset – an optimistic edge to a course guitar riff.

Superfood are more laid back, and a little less fuzzy than what’s been heard so far. There’s something slightly Britpop about them, with the twanging guitar licks of their newly-released self-titled track.

Overlapping melodies jauntily intertwine with casual drum beats in a way that makes something quite skillful look easy. This is a set that explains how such a buzz has developed purely from Superfood’s live shows.

Headlining a veritable ‘who’s who’ of ones to watch, Mens Adventures arrive, and there’s a plenty of them. Five slick-looking gents humbly stroll on stage, cowboys in disguise, with a couple of impressive quiffs hinting at their old-fashioned American inspirations.

For Mens Adventures write soundtracks to old spaghetti westerns, with extra lyrics. Their guitars are tuned to that iconic, echoing sound of Ennio Morricone’s theme for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Their drums are stuck on a horseriding, train-driving rhythm, which carries the audience along with it and results in some particularly interesting dance moves.

Somehow the aura of the desert seems to bring a bit of the warmth of the Deep South to this unseasonably icy night in Dalston. The crowd (and it really is a decent-sized crowd) is swept up in the fantasy of galloping through dusty landscapes and shooting baddies at dawn – so they jump up and down with glee.

On first impressions, the idea of hipsters copying movie soundtracks might sound like a tacky gimmick. But Mens Adventures play with a genuine appreciation of those film scores that pays homage to, rather than mocks, an often overlooked corner of composition.

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