ROBOTS & ELECTRONIC BRAINS

Garage, London (3rd May 2000)

The Seals actually used to be Nub and that should tell you a lot about how they sound. The Nub of the "Fall Guy" was pure pop perfection and I could never understand why they didn't make it. The Seals have the same beautifully crafted, melodic, layered songs but tonight are billed as 'FM friendly, Sugar-style ROCK'. That's not the whole story though. For a start, they have three guitars and that can only ever be A Good Thing and they may be catchy pop but they are complex in the way that Cable were complex. Let's hope they don't meet the same fate.

Reynolds have eluded me for so long that I was really looking forward to tonight. There is certainly beauty in what they do---it is unsettling in its permanent shifting from 4/4 rock, to Fugazi-like mayhem, to detuned guitars to post-rock convulsions. I loved their energy, I loved the bass player who kept stepping off the stage to play behind some chairs on the side, invisible. But I could not help feeling that a lot of it was Slint-by-numbers---you have undoubtedly heard it all before. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, most music is derivative in the same sense, but this simply failed to grab my attention in the way that it does on record. Too schizophrenic and too artily-removed.

Fiji, on the other hand, kept me mesmerised throughout their set in a rapidly emptying venue. I liked the "Glue Hotel Tapes" EP and the singles but this sounded infinitely better. I think the quiet monotone of the recording that irked me somewhat translated so beautifully into a loud backdrop for those breathless vocals and an assortment of bizarre sounds.

What is truly interesting about Fiji---or rather about the ex-Scarfo man Jamie Hince whose baby this is---is that I cannot for the life of me find a way of describing how this sounds. It was written, recorded and sung by one man, the band assembled for live performances. If I told you it had jerky repetitive beats, awash with fuzzy guitars and backed by a tape of all the pre-recorded weirdness (including a kazoo), I KNOW you wouldn't be halfway there. Basically, there was something about Fiji that made me want to take Jamie home, feed him absinthe and fags and watch him waste away in a beautifully maudlin fashion. This is the true meaning of lo-fi. (Radiant Kovacs)


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