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  • Girl Ray
HD Concerts @ The Magnet 25/10/16

“You can buy our T-shirt. It has snakes on it, and our heads.” What kind of hydra are GIRL RAY? They’re a chimera of stomping basslines, an onstage suitcase, synchronised 360º hopping, and an all-hands-on-deck attitude to backing harmonies. 6Music listeners might recognise Ghosty’s lurches in tempo from their session on Marc Riley’s show in March. Their set teems with bushy brown be-sideburned 70s Hammond organs sounds. They’re not throwbacks, though – I’ll Make This Fun has shades of Pavement, and they do make it fun! There’s no false modesty about this North London quartet: they seem genuinely thrilled to have this support slot, and to be playing in Liverpool.

The first rule of SLOW CLUB is: you absolutely must talk about Slow Club. Tell everyone you can because they’re a solid live act these days. They’re enjoying having 10 years’ of songs to harvest, from “golden oldie” Our Most Brilliant Friends to Ancient Rolling Sea (off this year’s album One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore). Effortless, too, is their stagecraft. I defy anyone to spot the seam between Rebecca Taylor’s awkward guitar-tuning patter and Rebecca Casanova’s suave vocal, delivered with a Presleyan sneer.

They’re a five-piece tonight, but Slow Club’s core is still the duo of Taylor and Charles Watson. Sure, he plays while she sings and he sings while she drums, but it’s when they’re both on vocals, and she sings low while he sings high, you get a voice greater than the sum of its parts. That said, any harmonies are judiciously employed. While the rest of the band squat comfily on the stage during Watson’s rendition of The Sweetest Grape On The Vine, Taylor lingers to one side, drifting past the microphone maybe three times at most, to gild his voice with hers.

It’s hard to spot, but American as Slow Club’s sound may be, they are anchored on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps it’s the word “dashboard” (instead of just ‘dash’) in Everything Is New or shades of The Beatles’ Yesterday in Watson’s fingerpicking… a clearer illustration would be Tears Of Joy, three songs in, when the room really comes alive. Considerably cranked up since its appearance on 2014’s Complete Surrender, by now it sounds of the club – by which I mean Brian Potter’s Phoenix, not Berghain. As “the twilight of the set” approaches (Taylor’s poetic turn, that), the playlist positively bristles with its hooks. One Day… lead single In Waves is followed by Two Cousins from 2011 and the magnificent Suffering You Suffering Me. Then they leave, the duo who supported Darts here in 2007 are nowhere to be seen, and it’s over all too fast.

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