Brighton band ‘Dark Horses’ were at the ‘Hoxton Bar and Kitchen’ last night (31st March 2014) to promote their forthcoming album ‘Hail Lucid State’ and to give us a taste of why they are currently one of the most in demand groups on the indie-rock circuit. With respectful nods and supporting roles for the like of Noel Gallagher, Beck, Sigur Rós, Tame Impala and Kasabian the band already present an impressive CV, and on the evidence of last nights performance it’s quite easy to see why their star continues to rise.
Back in 2012 debut album ‘Black Music’ received a mixed reception and was harshly criticized by some for having no hooks or obvious melodies. For me the album was a breath of fresh air and two years later I still think that its darkness and sultry vocal performances offer so much more than most of the copycat indie-rock bands currently earning a crust. The new Richard Fearless (Death in Vegas) produced material, performed last night, certainly had that similar feel and swagger to it but surprisingly also offered both of the aforementioned items that had been missing from their debut. The often quoted ‘difficult second album’ seemed not to be so difficult on this evidence.
The entire set was faultless and performed with the type of passion that simply swept you along. Lead singer Lisa Elle is a mesmerizing figure and there are definitely comparisons to be made against ‘Siouxsie Sioux’ or an early ‘Debbie Harry’. But the band are more than just their lead. There is a real tightness and togetherness to them and the set appeared almost effortless. The new material was performed with such confidence it could easily have been part of their back catalogue for years.
The band also seems to be clearly influenced by imagery. On their Facebook page ‘Ali Tollervey‘ is credited as a band member such is the importance of his photography and film work to this ‘Dark Horses’ project. In fact, the clever backdrops of artistic and quite fascinating edited film provide the audience with a focal point, as the band are often silhouetted against this backdrop. It’s quite brilliantly done and at no point takes the focus away from the music. The photography and music comes as a package, or a companion piece, in a similar way to ‘Public Service Broadcasting’ and their now legendary live shows.
If there was one criticism it would have been the scheduling for last night’s performances. The bill contained three acts (including Dark Horses) and after watching ‘Mega Emotion’ and the quite stunning ‘Whistlejacket’ the main act didn’t start their set until 22:15. For a Monday night there was a cost to pay as the audience seemed to thin out somewhat before the end. The finale deserved a larger crowd and on leaving the venue this seemed to be one of the main topics of conversation.
A full review of ‘Hail Lucid State’ will appear as soon as we have a copy to hand. In the meantime catch ‘Dark Horses’ and their formidable live show at one of these venues…