The Indelicates, Work

Ed James 18/10/2008

If what I am about to write seems critical of The Indelicates, it is only because, excellent though they are, their germ of potential is yet to blossom into full luxuriance.

Frontman Simon is an exceptionally able lyricist, sings with gusto and, along with rhythm guitarist Al Clayton, plays as tersely and energetically as anyone around. The breezy Our Daughters Will Never Be Free skewers the insidious way that consumerism moulds the mind of the female adolescent as succinctly as anyone writing in any medium. It also has a sprightly lead vocal and jaunty keyboard motif from singer Julia and, here at the Metro, the band throw themselves into a fervently entertaining rendition.

My only beef with The Indelicates is that they are operating within the long, trilby-sporting shadow of Luke Haines from whom Simon has taken his hoarse whisper, a measure of his wit and his array of grim subject matter. New Art for the People and Stars recall the doomed love explored so often by Black Box Recorder. Although Julia's voice is thankfully more nuanced than that of Sarah Nixey, her contributions are nevertheless a dutiful homage to BBR, much as her former colleagues The Pipettes represent a dressing-up-box version of various American girl groups circa 1965 which is all saddening given this band's potential.

America, although full of the pomp of a Lloyd Webber overture, remains a limp slap at a broad target. Any satirist's challenge is to continue to expand the scope of his or her ire, to find increasingly worthy figures of ridicule and it is here that the Indelicates seem to be shying at some obvious Aunt Sallies. So strong is their songwriting talent that I hope their next album focuses a little less on soured romance and what's wrong with popular culture and explores territory that is invigorating for them and their fanbase alike. Tonight, they preview a decent new song about David Koresh, suggesting that sinister goings-on from the early nineties might do for them what the underbelly of the mid-seventies have done for the big lad Luke from Walton-on-Thames (if this is the case and you are reading, Indelicates, I would enjoy a song about James 'Fan Man' Miller.)

Although their truncated cover of Judas Priest's Breaking the Law provides a piquant twist to proceedings, a number of their superior songs are missing from tonight's set. Although Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die has lost its buzz of novelty, this splendid song would have proven a better slow number than the weak Stars. The exhilarating Better to Know and Sixteen are also absent and the tin whistle under Julia's keyboard suggests that they had to jettison the buoyant Julia We Don't Live in the Sixties due to the over-running of non-descript support acts.

Although thus curtailed, this live show embellishes the slickness of their record with a rare kinetic energy and a keenness which I hope can go on to be matched in the broadening horizons of the subject matter of their songs.

Photograph by Miss Fliss