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Memoryhouse are something of an unassuming bunch. The core of the band consists of a fresh-faced pair, Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion. The former looks like a terribly polite young man – the kind of young man you’d never be scared to take home to meet your mother. Unless, of course, your mother had some kind of irrational hatred of polite young men, or of manners, in general. Denise appears equally respectable, dressed in her best Sunday dress (do such things even exist any more or did Courtney Love totally demolish that concept?) and with the general demeanour of someone that would be The Sickly Child, riddled with consumption, if she were a character from a Victorian novel. There is an earnest chemistry between them, thoroughly befitting of their gentile sound. The drummer is something of an anomaly in this quaint set-up, looking, essentially, like a terribly stereotypical Mancunian. This detail provides the only serious distraction of the evening, as the mind wanders, wondering if Memoryhouse are picking up a local stereotype in every city they play and asking them to dabble on the drums at that evening’s show.
Curious wonderings aside, it’s easy to get lost in Memoryhouse’s dream-pop, which hinges on the C-86 side of that tag, rather than the hipster one, if such a differentiation can be made. Backed with a series of earnest images projected onto the wall behind them; the band are well suited to the venue, with its cutesy, modern-retro wallpaper and theatre-style seating at the back, for those too fey to stand up for half an hour or so. Little is required of an audience member at a night such as this; other than shuffling politely forward when asked politely to do so and clap politely when each song fades into nothing. The rest of the time can be spent in your own private hallucination; aided by the visuals and, of course, the ethereal meanderings of the band.
There’s a real air of fragility surrounding Memoryhouse; a feeling they may break at any moment. Largely, this comes from Denise’s vocal. Although she always hits the mark, there’s a nagging sense that her voice could falter at any time; as though she has only been given a finite number of breaths and is trying to figure out how best to use them and still get her point across. For the most part, this is one of the endearing qualities of watching this Sub Pop signing. During ‘Walk With Me,’ (a highlight of the set) her concentrated crooning has a real sense of romance about it; a cinematic wistfulness drenches the venue. When they come back on for an stripped-back encore though; un-bolstered either by reverb, or by synthesisers, it throws up a weakness in an otherwise blissful evening.
Memoryhouse’s songs are necessarily painted in watercolour; softened round the edges, bound and blurred by effect. Without that, they appear untethered and pithy, Denise seemingly uncomfortable with the added exposure that came when she had nothing but her voice to focus on. It was unfortunate and unnecessary memory to walk away with, but only briefly blighting what had been a perfectly serene half hour.
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