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A Band Called Quinn – The Beggars Opera

A Band Called Quinn, The Beggar's Opera

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

GLASWEGIAN electro pop five-piece A Band Called Quinn are a polarising act… or so it would seem.

After being talent-spotted in a club night featuring jazz-playing badgers, psychics and burlesque puppeteers, the Louise Quinn fronted act toured Britain last year with award winning theatre company Vanishing Point in a futuristic update of John Gay’s 18th Century classic The Beggar’s Opera – which is where their notoriety began.

The show was a spectacle, pitched somewhere between a gig and a play, and it courted much controversy in the theatre world, dividing the critics between 1 and 5 star reviews.

It’s almost appropriate, then, that their next album, The Beggars Opera, is a record of the songs written specially for the show, which features sleeve-notes written by best-selling crime writer and Rebus creator Ian Rankin.

The result is a heady brew of electro-pop songs that play out on a grand scale, as befitting the show they were written for.

Quinn offers a formidable presence as leading lady, showcasing a fine set of vocals that recall everyone from The Divinyls’ Chrissy Amphlett to Chrissie Hynde via Gabby Young and Shirley Manson.

Their songs, meanwhile, combine fine pop art with punk-inflicted rockers and electro foot stompers. Not everything works but on the whole this is a band to watch from an album of frequent gems.

Riding high above them, for instance, is the fantastic We Are The Scum, which really offers a fantastic showcase of Quinn’s sultry vocals and a cracking chorus in the psychedelic pop-rock mould, as well as The Fuse, which showcases the electro side of the band as well as their tendency to sometimes sound like Garbage.

Quinn is mostly a formidable presence, adding sex appeal and sass to most of the tracks, but she also gets to indulge a sensitive side on the acoustic Closed My Eyes, another highlight, and a rawness on Consequence Waits, which taps into her punk side.

But whatever she sets her mind to, she does with conviction and an overriding quality that even lends some of the album’s more average or arty moments an interest value.

Taken as a whole, therefore, A Band Called Quinn have delivered a high quality offering that should only broaden their appeal to the masses. And while that may not be enough to grab you as a statement in itself, then consider that Quinn’s fanbase already extends to the likes of Madonna, Parisian superstar DJ Kid Loco, Alex Kapranos and Echo & The Bunnymen guitarist Gordy Goudie. Interested?

Download picks: We Are The Scum, The Fuse, Closed My Eyes, Wolf Cries Boy, Here’s To Us

Track listing:

  1. Here’s To Us
  2. Virgin, Mother, Psycho, Whore
  3. We Are The Scum
  4. The Fuse
  5. Closed My Eyes
  6. He’s A Dog
  7. History
  8. Consequence Waits
  9. Another Thin Girl
  10. Wolf Cries Boy
  11. He’s A Dog (feat Maxi Geil)