Somehow, despite having been there from the very beginning – when The New Cross sampler was given away free and wasn’t Â£60 on e-bay – I’ve not managed to write anything about either the New Cross scene or Angular Records. I’ve tried hard, but there just isn’t that much to say about an agglomeration of disparate bands. So it was with a small measure of excitement that I travelled to Goldsmiths Student Union for the launch of the first Angular single.
The Vichy Government, who played at that first event all those moons ago, have developed considerably from the cynical, sloganeering, Casio nihilists they once were. They’re still cynical, still nihilistic, and the music is still played on a car boot sale Yamaha keyboard. But the slogans have evolved into parables and fables: The Immortals (plastic surgery vs. Struldbruggs); Oliver Cromwell in Weimar Berlin; and The Loneliest Man in Ancient Rome (Juvenal vs. Up Pompeii). Life Should Mean Life is lyrically and musically the most interesting of the newer songs:
The kind of story we like best comes with a bit of danger,
The lonely unknown outcast, the sick perverted strange.
We externalise all evil so that we can sleep at night.
Send Oedipus off to Broadmoor to serve his twenty-five.
These lines are spat out with a renewed confidence, with Ian Paisley-style contempt for the world of tabloids. On their superb new song, The Male Gaze, they turn their attention to the inescapably electro-pop themes of alienation, voyeurism and inadequacy. Jamie Manners does that ‘boy with his nose pressed up against the sweetshop window pose so well, it would mean if the world didn’t give him a bag of penny chews. But one suspects his time is yet to come.
One person on whom the male gaze was firmly glued was the singer of the Violets, who has gone from being nervous and sedentary (at the second Angular event) to being utterly at ease with her position as an object of leering. It’s still difficult to hear what words she is singing, but her voice is strong. Guitarist, Joe Daniels, is also quite dashing in drainpipe trousers, pencil tie, black shirt and white-banded, black trilby. Even the drummer looks swish. My only qualm is with the music. Whether it is due to the lack of a bassist, I don’t know, but there the songs are a too claustrophobic at the moment; there’s no space between the instruments, no space for humour. Only on Feast on You, their single, do they really let go of their inhibitions. With Alex screaming and dancing and tying herself up in the microphone cord, they even inspire the kidz (admittedly students) to dance, which is a first.
Joe from The Violets asks us to listen to The Fucks and buy their single with the understandable anxiety of a man who, as Angular records co-founder, has invested his own money in it. He needn’t have worried. The Fucks are naÃ¯ve and charming enough to sell snow to the Eskimos, or, at the very least, irony to the students. They bestride the stage with the ease and humour of people who have a loving audience in front of them, playing their whimsical boy-girl guitar and Yamaha keyboard indie pop with tongue firmly in cheek.
Since I last saw them they’ve got a lot rockier, wigging out occasionally, with shoeless Jemma head- banging for all she’s worth. Their amiable amateurishness suits the angular philosophy well: this is indie without pretensions to compromised success. Doubtless, the Angular boys could have capitalised on the current interest in talentless garage rock, instead they have followed their hearts.