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Are Wave Machines the greatest band to come out of Liverpool since the La’s’? If the mad enthusiasm with which the sea of fans present tonight lapped up their exquisitely idiosyncratic brand of electro-pop is anything to judge by I don’t think I would be alone in responding to this question with a resounding 'yes'.
Their recently released album, Wave If You’re Really There, is a perfectly formed musical gem. Luxurious hooks, crisp beats, bouncy basslines and lyrics that are both refreshingly open and cuttingly clever, all made for a debut that was impossible to take out of the CD player. Yet, in a year when desperate second albums and precious pop princesses have been hogging the limelight, Wave Machines were forced to ply their trade along the wayside while your Auntie Flos and Jack Penates made off into the sunset with the big bucks clenched in their fists, positive reviews coming out their arses.
Not that the band themselves are bitter: Carl, the sweet natured slap-head on synth and guitar duty, is a firm believer in the long discredited long tail theory and off stage most of the band seem more interested in playing the fool than playing Glastonbury - which gives them an instant advantage over the aforementioned sickening success stories. Wave Machines are about playing the music and having a good time, all the rest is just flotsam and jetsam.
Taking to the stage in their trademark creep-o cardboard masks, they look more like a bunch of Thunderbirds turned horribly, horribly wrong than anything else. Opening with ‘You Say The Stupidest Things’, a lolloping hymn to hedonism ("the day is wasted if you’re not wasted") which pretty much sums up the do nuthin’ know nuthin’ take everythin’ ethos of our generation, the degree to which they’ve sharpened up their act in the last year is instantly apparent. This gig may be to celebrate the release of their new single, ‘Punk Spirit’, but every number is down so tight it almost hurts.
In spite of the unspeakably awful sound system in the Hoxton Bag, the frenetic intensity of the music has most of the audience dancing like tweaked out speed freaks, that special indie-Sindy twitch step that desperately wants to be Ian Curtis but comes off more electrode-up-your-anus. Tracks like ‘I Go I Go I Go’ and the truly sublime ‘The Greatest Escape We Ever Made’ take on a raw, desperate, punk-y urgency while the droopy-eyed disco of ‘Keep The Lights On’ allows the band to give rise to the proggy instincts that swirl beneath the surface of most of their work. Closing with a new track called ‘Water Dries On Her Back’, a high-pitched high-tempo number (think Tiny Tim meets Late of the Pier) they’re nothing if not diverse. This electrifying show just goes to show that the tide is still rising for Wave Machines.
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