My Computer suffer from terminal blandness at Barfly

Review by Heather Metherell

My Computer, Barfly, Camden

I'VE always been a bit wary of bands that rely heavily on synthesisers and pre-recorded material, especially when playing live. Luckily, in the past, I've been pleasantly surprised by dance acts such as Groove Armada, who successfully combined the live and recorded components of their music to create an exciting live experience. The same could not be said of My Computer, at their gig on November 12.

There's no doubt that these musicians take their material seriously. Their album is a carefully considered, perhaps over-worked, attempt to push musical boundaries.

Unfortunately, it turns out more like a hotchpotch of musical styles, glued together by ridiculous amounts of vocal synthesis. It's not easy listening when you're sitting in the comfort of your own home, with easy access to the skip button, but when you've stood through an hour and a half of boring support acts; it really does grate on your nerves.

Despite this, it seems they have a healthy fan base, and the tiny venue, above The Monarch pub in Camden, was packed by the time the band arrived on stage.

Just like their music, they're a mixed lot, looking rather like a bunch of scientists with a token boy band member thrown in for good measure. There was an overwhelming amount of computer equipment on stage, and the band members picked their way across the maze of synthesisers to take their seats, before beginning 'All I Ever Really Wanted Was a Good Time', the first track from their debut album, Vulnerabilia.

There was something faintly amusing about watching the group looking serious and theatrical while punching at their keyboards with two fingers. The overuse of vocal synthesis in all of the tracks makes for a boring live performance, particularly as, much of the time, the lead vocalist is waiting for his synthesised equivalent to shut up so he could start singing.

The title track, Vulnerabilia, went down particularly well. This is probably the most commercial sounding track from the album and it got the crowd dancing and moving about. It has an upbeat feel and a pleasant guitar loop, although the lyrics are typically gloomy.

The track that really stands out, as the low point of the evening, was Magic Flat, with its silly lyrics, such as 'magic bus, magic bus please come for us', cheesy dance beat and more vocoder than even Cher could handle.

More than anything, I felt that this band were taking themselves too seriously. There is a lot of musical talent and knowledge involved in creating an album with so many different musical styles, but there is nothing more irritating than a musician who looks like the last place they want to be is on stage, playing for their fans.

I admire My Computer for trying something different, and their album, Vulnerabilia, certainly doesn't shy away from experimentation.

That said, they need to work on finding a way to interpret their sound live. Perhaps they need to assess exactly where they are going with their music before they can do this; as things stands, it's a safer bet to stick to the CD.

RELATED LINKS: Click here for the band's official website...
Click here for the 13 Amp website...

Click here for Indielondon's verdict on the debut album...