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3 stars


Gwdihw, Cardiff, Wed 24 Jan

The band name Pastel puts one in mind of Glaswegian tweepoppers The Pastels, and of subtle tints rather than bold colours. It doesn’t put one in mind of boorish Britpop that worships at the altar of Definitely Maybe and the Happy Mondays. The final song is a token gesture in the direction of sensitivity and depth, garage forecourt flowers proffered optimistically by a swaying, Stella’d-up oaf. Swansea outfit HalfBlind are marginally better, largely on account of their parents’ record collections seeming more diverse: 60s powerpop, The Coral and early Talking Heads. Not that they make particularly effective use of any of those resources, mind.

Meanwhile, the Shins cover that makes an appearance four songs into Risorius’ set gives us a much-needed clue as to what they’ve been aiming at (and missing by some distance) with the previous three. The second even comes perilously close (i.e. within a 500-mile radius) to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication. They do, however, have the commendable nerve to take on the hubbub of general disinterest with a quieter song that briefly quells the chatter and suggests that the keyboard player isn’t redundant after all.

The faint hope that Holy Bouncer might be able to salvage the evening – a possibility that seems even more remote when it transpires that an effects pedal has been pinched – comes thorough, against the odds. You would assume that years of Primavera festivals would have rubbed off on this Barcelona band, and certainly Holy Bouncer’s members boast the high-waisted trousers and moustaches that have practically become the uniform. But there is nothing remotely hipster about the bands they most frequently appropriate, to rejuvenating effect: The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Hearing the likes of Anticipation and Hippie Girl Lover, Mojo Man would be inclined to feel approval rather than a sense of alienation, while anyone dismayed by Tame Impala’s lapse from the psych-indie bliss of Lonerism into the glossy mediocrity of Currents would lap up Mightly Mad.

The quintet’s performance becomes a blur of high kicking, bongo bashing and muscly riffs. We’re coaxed into crouching down for a drum solo and later asked to supply weed in exchange for an encore. For the first time this evening, we really do want more.


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