For the foreseeable future it seems that the kids will be emulating their heroes by playing irrelevant rock ‘n’ roll. More dispiriting is the fact that the kids (other ones) seem to enjoy listening to it. If, according to Paul Morley, Elephant by The White Stripes was album of year, it being a pity that that year is 1963, then Nic Armstrong is a rising Bluesman in the year 1961. Actually, his influences are slightly more eclectic, taking in on his latest single, ‘Broken Mouth Blues’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Tombstone Blues’. And when I say taking in, I mean taking in note for note.
To add to the authenticity, Armstrong sports a particularly nasty little moustache. I pause to think: perhaps we’ve got so retro that the Victorian idea that you weren’t a proper man unless you had facial hair has come full-circle. On the obligatory song about women blowing hot and cold (‘She Change Like the Weather’ – yes, really) they sound like early Who, complete with Keith Moon drumming. It is only when this Nottingham lad starts singing about “going back to New Orleans” that the whole retro facade is shown to be tragic.
The irony is that Dogs Die in Hot Cars (DDiHC) are just as unconcerned about progress and change as Nic Armstrong. The difference being that the zeitgeist is right for them, with their Glaswegian post-punk XTC-esque pop.
DDiHC’s debut single, ‘I love you cause I have to’ (released last August and which you can listen to if you click here) was a jittery ska-tinged joy, provoking a frenzied bidding war that saw them sign to V2. By the looks of them on-stage they haven’t spent their new found riches on decent clothes or haircuts. No, instead they’ve squandered it on flash, new equipment (shiny guitars, expensive amps and keyboards). It’s all about priorities, they cannot help but reveal motives. DDiHC seem determined to be a quirky pop band, there is nothing edgy or strange about them. Even their debut single sounded as though it had had its edges sanded off.
The lyrics are all style, no content: “Chinese girl I love you” and “I wish I had Paul Newman’s eyes” being two phrases they seem happy to repeat ad infinitum. And the sound, if you allow for the ska influence that seems to guarantee that every song is exactly the same tempo, is like the Talking Heads covering the Proclaimers. I know that sounds bizarre and interesting, but without the uniqueness of either it soon becomes wearisome.