Photography: John Middleton / johnmiddletonphoto.co.uk

Our Girl

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  • Jelly Boy
I Love Live Events @ Phase One 4/3/19

A sunny morning that gave way to rain, wind and then hailstones. This should probably have been an indicator of the set that would unfold from OUR GIRL. Purveyors of indie that flits between grungy and psych, gentle and gripping, the band emerge onto the stage in a thick film of red light. That fades, goes blue and later, nearly dims to complete darkness. Before that though, we’ve barely shook our hair dry when the slightly too sharp, brilliantly breezy support act JELLY BOY bounce onstage. 

They quickly settle into a low, AOR style opener. Essentially the creation of Benji Compston of Happyness, Jelly Boy perform here as a four-piece of Benji on lead vocals and guitar, with an extra guitarist, drummer and a keyboard player doubling on bass. Most of the set goes along in a similar vein to its opener, with ploddy, sophisticated pop taking bits of American indie, but there are some exceptions. Jelly Boy’s second tune has an uptempo and interesting Green-era REM feel, one that ventures into Weezer grunge-lite. Their fourth sees Benji take centre-stage at the keyboard, playing two verses before admitting he’s forgotten the song, remembering it and carrying on where he left off. The penultimate song of the set features a decent guitar line and some nice glissandos on the keyboard but belies an absolute blinder of a closer, which starts with a wail of guitars before settling into a 90s power-pop kick. It saves the bloody set.

Headliners Our Girl have had something of a strange gestation, particularly for lead-singer guitarist, Soph, also the lead guitarist in The Big Moon, whose rapid ascent lead to a Mercury Prize nomination in 2017. The two bands’ fortunes have dovetailed quite neatly with Our Girl’s debut, the Bill Ryder-Jones produced Stranger Today, released last year.  And where The Big Moon deal in Britpop-indie with a tinge of Sleeper, Our Girl tend towards something more explosive – simpler in some respects and more complex in others. Opener I Really Like It is a case-in-point, with its sweet toned lyrics sung in Soph’s Faithfull-esque drawl, but underscored by a heavy reverb on her guitar, particularly during a middle 8 that’s just a little bit thrash. Being Around is another sparkler, benefitting from the light and shade, only this time with more guitar squeals and vocal yowls. The band’s rhythm section are totally on board, in garage terms – with drummer Lauren’s stomp-snap pattern and bassist Josh fret-walking these songs into life, particularly on the Elastica-ish Josephine.

After a tiring journey, Lauren tells us that the band “are all out of chat”. “It’s OK, because we’ve got songs,” says Soph. What follows are the group’s most intricate arrangements of the night – album track Sub Rosa (a neat bit of indie balladeering) and the stripped-back Heat which features Josh switching to guitar so he and Soph can produce some Buckley-style spectral guitar lines. They finish up the intimate portion of the set with two more slow tunes, the latter of which, Careful, is so sweet and soft, it’s almost folky. Level sees a return to the garage, with In My Head crawling towards an echoey psych, before dramatically changing tempo at its close. “This is our last song, no bullshit,” says Lauren, but closer Boring still manages to draw out the finale, changing speed and volume before morphing into the kind of syncopated psych jam that the set has threatened all evening. And true to their word, afterwards, the band speed off-stage.

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