review archive

Butterflies Of Love / tompaulin / Comet Gain / Tender Trap 93 Feet East, 25th September 2002

Those charming boys at Track & Field have laid out a big picnic of pop, so let’s stuff our faces with indie fancies kids!

Tender Trap are having a bad hair week, what with being unable to gain access to their studio thanks to the Countryside Alliance march at the weekend and then locking the bass in its case and losing the key. Tonight there are various malfunctions and forgotten tambourines (didn’t The Forgotten Tambourines support the Darling Buds in, like, ’89?), but Amelia Fletcher, Queen of Indie™ has spent sixteen years overseeing all kinds of madcap shambolics. Lesser popstars would go all sulky or stomp off in a strop, but Amelia smilingly belts out the songs, bouncing with Tiggerish enthusiasm during each buzzing intro. These are simple, sweet poptunes, guitar, bass and sample tracks. At one point we get a curious number featuring Amelia’s clear, girlish voice against a parping melodica. Unfortunately it’s rudely interrupted by a rogue sample that suddenly decides to kick in for a laugh, destroying the moment as melodica-man falls off his chair in exasperation. Despite everything, I enjoy the band a lot more than the last couple of times I’ve seen them, quirky and engaging. And I didn’t mention Talulah Gosh once. Oh bugger. bri-nylon bikini by Etam in rosy red and white
The motley ensemble that is Comet Gain are a member down, what with the tube strike and all, singer Rachel hasn’t appeared. Evil genius, singer/guitarist David Feck drags a giant fake cactus onstage and tells us to imagine Rachel’s here as they start the first song. We all imagine hard, and suddenly Rachel is pushing her way through the audience, leaping onstage and trading vocals beamingly, coat still on.
I love Comet Gain, the way the ramshackle songs fall together to become utter stroppy-pop gems. Live, the songs are itchy rough diamonds, on record they’re a scuffed, rattling Dexy’s. I like their fearsome passion, 101 socialist, situationist, idealistic beliefs. The way the songs are immediate and intelligent, shooting fire into your veins and sending ideas scudding round your brain whilst you dance your little socks off. Songs like ‘I Close My Eyes To Think Of God’ and ‘Why I Try To Look Bad’ and one where guitarist Jon stares round bemusedly ‘cos he didn’t turn up to rehearsal, ‘too busy growing his beard’. Mind you, last time I saw them - tumultuous, alcohol-fuelled, triumphant opening with ‘The Kids At The Club’ - bass player Kay didn’t turn up to the gig at all. We get a churning, fuzzing, driving version of ‘My Defiance’ to finish us off, Rachel spitting out, ‘I want you, I need you, I want you, I need you’ hunching round the mic like a bobhaired, cheeky-grinning female Mark E. Smith. David scraping guitar strings up against the cactus, singing, ‘Here comes the chorus now’ and I can hear the swathes of brass that belong here in my head. A kiss on the cheek and a smile in the morning.
trouser suit by Angela at London Town
pale green shift with aplique flowers
After this righteous soulmodpunk, tompaulin seem a little polite. They’ve shed a couple of members, I remember there being keyboards before, and a gang-of-ornery-buggers messy pop mentality. The songs seem more refined, holding themselves in as the bass-lead tunes swell around Stacey’s vocals. Mind you there’s nothing refined about her frankly disturbing haircut. Looks like she was a model in a hairdressing competition where her hairdresser had something to prove. From the front it’s a jaw-length bob, but then it’s really long at the back. Is this some new kind of mullet monstrosity? I’m scared. It’s okay though, cos we get ‘Boy Hairdresser’, playing on that old ‘start softly and poignantly, build and build to strumming beauteousness, wipe away tear, end’ dynamic, with the same lilting heart-tuggingness as Camera Obscura’s ‘Eighties Fan’ And it sounds like ‘Secret Goldfish’ by Baby Lemonade (check yer non-entity ‘80s indie collection). It kicks their previous songs into touch.

Butterflies Of Love spent the weekend fluttering round Paris and it shows. Singer/guitarist Jeff (the Bambi-eyed, unfeasibly tall, gangly one) practices his French on us and seems in a chirpy, jokey mood, despite the fact he has a defective microphone that isn’t loud enough. When the soundman suggests he sings louder, Jeff points out that this would mean he wouldn’t be expressing himself at the correct emotional level and the songs would be fake (said jokily, come on). Butterflies of Love are all about levels of emotion, even more so when singer/guitarist Dan (short, balding one) sings, his voice starting off as Jonathon Donahue and becoming increasingly J. Mascis as the evening wears on, ie. from a cracked whine to er, a more cracked whine. In a good way.

Songs revolve around a pick and mix combination of Dan’s heartfelt whine leading some songs while Jeff’s softer (not just in volume) vocals carry the others. There are warm piano sounds and deliciously fizzing, fuzzing guitar. Song of utter beauty, ‘Dream Driver’ comes and goes early on, though there are plenty of others, tunes are short and sweet in the Butterflies’ world. It’s all about daydreaming and yearning, swooningly plaintive “You make me feel like I could rob a bank." A warm glow as you drop tears into your beer. Quite a feat when you’re clutching a bottle of Becks.

white sheath dress in crimplene
[top of page]