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The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Review

The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE Victorian English Gentlemens Club are a paradox in more ways than one – they actually hail from Cardiff and are comprised of two girls and one guy.

What’s more, there’s nothing particularly polite about their music, which is all about creating prickly pop records that thrive on jagged, schizo noise.

In life form, Louise wrests a fierce, filthy rumble from her bass and Emma attacks the drums, while Adam’s guitar cuts bloodily across them.

His distinct, raw vocals collide with odd bouts of falsetto chanting and yelping as each band member’s vocals bounce off each other – although the boy-girl trade off is much more jagged than pleasant.

They have been amassing a cult following off the back of their two singles, Tales of Hermit Mark and Amateur Man/Ban the Gin, as well as supporting tour dates with The Mystery Jets and British Sea Power.

Their sound is marked by the peculiar rhythms and song structures that exemplify their desire to make music that is uncompromising and intriguing.

Yet as distinct as they sound vocally, there’s still a little too much emphasis on angular guitar riffs, art-punk and strained vocals, which prompt immediate comparisons to everyone from The B-52s to Modest Mouse, via Hot Hot Heat and The Arctic Monkeys.

The cheeky, everyday titles of their songs, in particular, bear comparison with the Arctics, while the lyrics on tracks like Impossible Sighting Over Shelton and Amateur Man recall similar stories of English life.

The strong male-female interchange on Cannonball harks back to The B-52s at their bounciest – although the vocals here are much more shouted.

While Ban The Gin contains the same sort of chant-along singing that could easily pass as Hot Hot Heat’s Bandages – a clever play on words for easy radio familiarity?

Some of the guitar riffs are sharp and snappy, while the ever-present bass ensures TVEGC maintain a distinct sound.

But only a couple of tracks really emerge as anything special – such as Impossible Sightings Over Shelton, with its stronger melodic structure and better vocal trade-off, and the slow-building Dead Anyway, where the girls’ vocals are allowed to take centre stage.

That track, in particular, hints at a more fully developed sound that could easily flow into gutsy, gritty White Stripes territory.

Sadly, the remainder of the album struggles to maintain the same standards.

Track listing:

  1. Tales Of Hermit Mark
  2. Stupid As Wood
  3. My Son Spells Backwards
  4. Impossible Sightings Over Shelton
  5. Such A Chore
  6. Dead Anyway
  7. Ban The Gin
  8. Amateur Man
  9. Hundred Years Of The Street
  10. Under The Yews
  11. Cannonball