Oversol, Foreign born, The Bright Space

Jennifer Roberts 17/11/2005

At first glance, they exude typical British-ness. Their skinny, muted uniform is paired with shy, downward glances. Do not be fooled by sight nor sound, these cool Californians with their swirling fusion of ambient pop may draw comparisons with 80's UK bands Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Jesus & Mary Chain - but have created an updated version alongside. These rising stars have already supported Tom Vek, M83, Black Mountain, Bloc Party, French Kicks, and The Futureheads. Add to that a residency at Spaceland, they now venture across the waters for a brief visit. The second night of Foreign Born's three day jaunt in dear old blighty, sees them hold their own as support to Oversol.

Powerful opener 'It Wasn't Said To Ask' starts with dark, heady notes that float out into the crowd, emanating from the haunting vocals of singer Matt Popeiluch. Swelling in the murky ambience, they soar over a rich sound supplied by the band; Lewis Pesacov - guitar, Ariel Rechtshaid - bass, Garrett Ray - drums. Rolling into their debut single 'We Had Pleasure' (released on December 5th through moshi moshi records) his voice slots in somewhere between Win Butler of Arcade Fire and a softer version of Interpol's Paul Banks. Tracks like 'Escape' and 'In the Shape' show traces of ex-Startime heroes The Walkmen, while 'Wait Too Long' has a rippling undercurrent of progressive sounds reminiscent of Bends-era Radiohead, with notably more cheer. Forgoing the typical harmonica on 'It Grew on You', a Fisher Price mouth-keyboard-thingy seems to suit the psychedelic trance conjured up by the aggressive drumming. Employing his trusty Rickenbacker, the urgency escalates on the title track of their EP 'In The Remote Woods' (available on Startime records) which borrows classic U2 guitar riffs to support the taut, hypnotic melodies. Classically British with an infused coolness of the West Coast. Both professional and tight considering their infant release - their first outing shows a promise of greater things to come.

A short set reveals a brief insight into the world of The Bright Space, the second of tonight's support - with their dancey beats slicing through the layered vocals you can't help but tap along to 'Honestly' and the heavier Turin Brakes sound on 'No Time To Kill'. The space-age intro of 'She Goes' holds hands with an early Robert Smith vocals. They muster on through 'Wrongstar (their debut single to be released in January '06 on their own label 'Disco Impact') to the gentler 'Still I Stand' and 'Suffocated By Sound' with Feeder-style melodies drifting listlessly into each other showing a soft centre within their hard outer shell. In the style of current bands, these have a lot to prove if they are going to match what's already out there, and a tour in January may help to improve their game.

For the last night of their eleven day jaunt around the country that coincides with the release of their debut single 'Speed', Oversol dip into the pool of mainstream indie songs already filled by Coldplay, Idlewild, Doves, and Elbow. Their saving grace is that being newcomers: the determination in each song is genuine. Every line typifies break-ups and breakdowns. Bush-esque vocals bring a raw edge to the rattling drums in 'Assassin' and reverb-drenched bass lines in 'Panic Attack' and 'Dizzy Heights'. Stark synths and frantic drumming from Rees and Nathan add to their already accomplished sound. Their debut release through the Genepool setup on the 28th November produced by Mark Williams (Fightstar & YCNI:M) and mixed by the Michael Brauer, has the potential to be a student anthem, with the crowd already singing it back to them tonight. Telling us he finds it difficult to write a nice song about relationship screw-ups (is there such a thing?), 'Don't Black Out', 'Reason With Me', and '1,2,3,4' are a call to arms for the broken-hearted. Singer Aaron 'I'm not bitter' Frith cuts through each song pulling out every raw emotion. With nothing left inside, they end with the softer 'Just Enough' in the vein of Feeder's Comfort In Sound. Woeful songs leave me feeling like I've just had my heart ripped out. A faultless performance, which could do with a more positive outlook perhaps, but these newcomers will definitely be causing a blip on the radar in the not too distant future.