review archive

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names / Michaelmas / The Bleeding Hearts / Fanfarlo
- The Windmill, Brixton, 8th December 2005

Fanfarlo have apparently got Sean Fortuna Pop’s knickers in a pop-love twist, and they are rather snappy, the pair of them (Fanfarlo not Sean’s knickers) in their sharp indie boy threads. They’re a Swede and an English and they play bass and guitar to backing tracks, with synthy squirls snappping at the heels of their whimsy jangle swoon pop. Sometimes they’re reminiscent of Belle and Seb, in wistful, ‘Nice Day For A Sulk’ mode, sometimes they’re a sweetie shop Mercury Rev. At one point the obligatory melodica makes an appearance, in compliance with the ruling that no indie happening can go ahead without one on the premises. Fanfarlo: Knicker-twisting
Bleedin' star innit?

The Bleeding Hearts have their moments, introducing themselves with a heart-gladdening glockenspiel wisp of wist. They waltz and shimmy through a charm school selection of shivery lounge-tinged glitterball busker tunes. Sometimes, though, there is beauty in brevity, and I find myself drifting in the middle of some of the more epic numbers. We last encountered singer Markus (?) slathered in eye-shadow and handing out percussion instruments to the audience in the guise of Boy Genius, here he is again with his splendid bone-structure and lovely eye make-up being a big old twinkling star. Plus, how about this picture (eyes left) where he looks like he's wearing a little crown balanced on the top of his head? Like I said - a star.

I’m pleased to see Michaelmas again, having been charmed a couple of weeks ago by their strummily cool English beat songs with West Coast dips and sparkles. Tonight there are special winter tunes, the Butterflies of Love-ish ‘Winter Starts Today’ and ‘I Want The Snow,’ played with the band swaddled in scarves – it’s all about creating an atmosphere y’see.

There’s the lovely loping countryish ‘Questions’ and the dreamily tootling ‘Why I’m Blue’ and ‘Bug Me’- it’s so lovely. There are also shenanigans involving a prop telephone song? Michaelmas then effortlessly win the indie melodica war by producing the daddy of all melodicas. It’s fuck-off massive. Blimey.

We first encountered Suburban Kids whilst perusing the Labrador web site. Ho! That’s a good name we thought and then we found the video for ‘Rent A Wreck’; two geeky Swedish boys knocking out ‘ba ba bas’ with abandon. Bless! So we went to see them play the Metro. Pretty much no one else came. The band were endearingly ramshackle, three of them like rabbits in headlights playing to backing tapes. Then we went to Sweden and the Kids’ album was in all the shops (obviously we bought it) and the video of their wonderously titled ‘Loop Duplicate My Heart’ got played on tv. Hurrah! Geeky Swedish Boys!
So tonight we’ve got their songs embroidered on our brains and we’re wondering if they’re going to hold it together live. And they do! The Suburban Kids rule! This time round Johan and Peter are joined by a full band, including yes! bongos and trumpet, as they frolick their way through a collection of poptastic iced gems. It’s approximately eight million times better than the last time we saw them. Utterly lovely loopy pop joy full of gonky harmonies bouncing off each other and a big wodge of cheery, wobbily songs that tie a big bow round your heart. In a spectacular case of unlikely titling ‘Funeral Face’ sounds impossibly gleeful, shimmying around on Bhundu Boys style liquid guitar, before flipping into a disco beat middle eight. It’s insane and delightful and a perfect example of the Suburban Kids genius at mixing up a mighty mess of bonkers sounds into perfect pop songs that lead you on a merry old dance all over the shop until you don’t know and certainly don’t care which way is up. There’s the heart-melting ‘Loop Duplicate’ which always summons steam on hot chocolate and frosty windows for me and the charleston meets rock ‘n’roll shifty shufflebeat of ‘Seems To Be On My Mind’. ‘Parakit’ jaunts and twinkles round the room with its wiggy boom bash rumblethump and tales of nostalgia. ‘Trees and Squirrels’ is snappy and clappy, sliding down a plinky keyboard line into a hip-dipping brass blast.
Oh yes! ‘I want to turn all the dance-floors into a burning inferno’-a few pop kids wriggle about at the front, getting especially happy for ‘Rent A Wreck’ in all its boingy jumping on the bed glory. Here we go, ‘Ba ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba etc. By the end there’s a feeling of fizzed up hysteria in the air, a sugar high rising off the band as they throw themselves into ‘Noodles’. And there’s still more to come, the crowd has gone Kids-krazy and demands satisfaction in the shape of encores. We sneak out the door, happy with what we’ve seen.
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