Saturday, 16 January 2010

Review | The Complete Short Stories

by Little Miss B, 15th January 2010: all photography by Rachel Ferriman for The Girls Are.

The Complete Short Stories @ Pandamonium.
The Wilmington Arms, 8th Jan 2010. 

This review is woefully late because (as a writer I am reluctant to admit this) I've been struggling to find words that aptly describe The Complete Short Stories. Any old regular joe, garden variety words would just not do. Unearthly words were called for; evocative and many-layered. Living in a world of Twitter, the facebook status and the text message, such words are criminally under-used, and it has taken a good seven days to dust off my magniloquent cerebral thesaurus and get down to some serious scribing.

Introduced to The Complete Short Stories by The Girls Are photographer Rachel, I was wholly uncertain of what to expect from this show. Sardined into the narrow back room of The Wilmington Arms, I appeared to be surrounded by fierce fans, all keen to vocalise their fandom. I had done some internet rummaging prior to the gig, and had come across similar uber-affection and shining recommendation: "entirely unlike anything you beautiful people have ever had the pleasure of dancing, howling and dreaming along to". With such high praise ringing in my ears, this could have gone one of two ways: severe anti-climactic disappointment, or joyfully signing myself up to the legion of loyal admirers standing alongside me.

Oh wonderful readers, twas the latter, the latter, and consummately so...

A vaguely shambolic looking bunch of seven (wonderful: is like Enid Blyton band of plucky youngsters!), The Complete Short Stories are made up of Gavin, Grant, John, Toby, Naomi, James and the wonderful Kerry on vox. A fantastically experimental blend of folk and indie, these guys charmed their way through the entire set, weaving ribbons of colour and sound into spectral, dense tales of other-wordly adventures. What initially appears as  layered, slightly chaotic noise, blossoms into beautiful, ethereal, galloping songs. I almost wished the surrounding jostling and whooping would cease, so we could all stand in happy silence and bask in the fragile loveliness of this band. If Edgar Allen Poe, Kate Bush, and Camera Obscura got together, took loads of opium and wrote some songs, this would be the result.

Like folky wonders and personal favourites Peggy Sue, The Complete Short Stories have a knack for pulling you headfirst into their songs: impish Little Red takes you by the hand and leads you on a journey into a vibrant and mysterious sonic world, whilst never compromising the fundamental tenets of a good song: catchy, melodic, with foot-tapping beats. 'Farm' and 'One Blank Channel' were the standout tracks.

Being a serial nit-picker, however, I did have one gripe: Kerry's earthy, honeyed voice was often drowned out by the other instruments. Whilst it did not marr the performance, it was indeed a shame. Wilmington sound man: tsk tsk. I fully understand that depsite the gush-fest above, not everyone will love this band; I'll even go so far as to say they are an acquired taste. But, if like me, you have a weakness for folk songs, mariners yarns and fairytales, then you too will fall head over heels.

The band are releasing single 'One Blank Channel' on 11th March.

The Complete Short Stories | Lately


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