Life Model, Star Rover (EP launch) at The Old Hairdressers, 12/2/16

Tonight, Star Rover – formerly the solo project of Davy King, now featuring Dave Macdonald (bass) and Mike Johnstone (drums) – stop off at The Old Hairdressers on a tour of their new EP, Selfs.

Though their genre’s listed online as grunge-pop, Star Rover’s most obvious point of reference is American hardcore and punk, but it’s Fugazi’s take on hardcore, or post-hardcore that they mastered around The Argument, that inspires Star Rover, an approach that delights as much in the smallest sounds as the noisiest thrash.

Through the set, bassist Dave Macdonald makes use of an extendable lead to walk to the back of the room and stand on one of the blocks in the room.

With the band triangulating the room, it creates a real sense of communal enjoyment of the music, with the audience literally surrounded by the band.

If there’s anything of a slacker impression the band gives off (heightened by the unembellished appearance of the upstairs room at the Hairdressers), that would be to miss the developed melodies and intricacies of each of the songs.

‘Caroline’ has an air of early R.E.M., with its jagged, trebly guitar lines and murmured lyrics, but it’s turned up a notch with a power chorus.

Set closer ‘You’re All Right’ is perhaps the most impressive from the band tonight, managing to move from a heavy guitar solo into a finish of Davy King alone with a clean guitar, that is more reminiscent of Galaxie 500 or Yo La Tengo.

While, in the late 80s and early 90s, My Bloody Valentine moved from the pop of their early EPs towards the slow, ambient noise of Loveless, headliners Life Model have seemed to take the opposite route, and the new songs tonight demonstrate a developing pop sensibility.

The woozily cool early tracks, ‘Come Round’ and ‘Glazed’, take their place at the end of the set to remind the audience of Life Model’s beginnings, ending the night with their trademark sound: slow, huge, bathed in a wash of noise, but tonight’s choice of Kenickie’s ‘Classy’ for a cover indicates the path the band may be heading in, that’s bold, brash and direct.

Opener ‘Skin and Bones’ is driven by the band’s understated rhythm section of Michael McDonald (drums) and Joanne McCafferty (bass), with Sophie Evan’s Morrissey-esque melody underscored by overdriven bass and guitar.

‘Lucky’ is the indie pop hit Life Model always threatened to make, complete with a reverb-ridden Bernard Butler style guitar solo at the song’s centre from Chris Smith.

The song’s opening lines, “we don’t talk about it/ anymore/ so keep your mouth shut,” show a sly humour from Evan.

The set demonstrates a whole new dynamic to the band’s performance that should make their upcoming EP an essential purchase.

Words: Tony Boardman


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