Sunday, 6 April 2008

Envy and Other Sins, Barfly

'Indie Leona Lewis’? Pah, whatever. Here’s a fact: only a lazy sub-snob with an uninformed pre-conclusion would be cynical about Envy & Other Sins.
Playing to a packed out albeit notably youthful Barfly, the four-piece give a masterclass in exuberant, reflective pop – their infectious hook-laden bursts daze the eyes and resonate in the eardrums. The band appear on stage complete with their signature props, of course consisting of sporadically grandiose Lampshades & Other Furniture, and provide a real aural treat. And not only that, they’re decked out in their Sunday best – braces, neckerchiefs, waistcoasts and all the rest.

The melodies in songs like ‘Man Bites God’ are gentle and jaunty in the right proportion, and the band exude a focused, tight spirit on stage that takes the whole thing up a gear further. This isn’t just a frontman, it’s four people so vital to the sound who, when put together, create a whole set of enchanting choruses.

With the sunny and fluently enunciated harmonies of ‘Man Bites God’, the oddness of the furniture is a long distant thought away. All pretentiousness is thrown out of the window and the residue is simple and effective – and tonight, they’re on top form. Something that might not be that obvious without seeing Envy & Other Sins live is just how much fun they’re having.
The keyboard embellishments and robust bass are captivating to the crowd – and who can blame them when you’ve got visual treats like keyboardist Jarvey’s open-mouthed quasi-wriggle, drummer Jim’s impassioned gurn, bassist Mark’s fabulous fur-collared coat and singer/guitarist Ali’s stumbling joyousness.

In short, just try to resist the charisma, the lyrical conciseness (semantic gold star to “why do you treat me like a stranger/when I am not a stranger/I’m just a little stranger” in ‘Talk To Strangers’) – hell, the intuition underlying each of the songs.

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