David’s Lyre, Chapel Club

Chris Eustace 16/02/2011

Taking to the stage under cover of darkness, save for a shining “DL” logo, to support Chapel Club, David's Lyre, aka Paul Dixon and his band, appear to have much in common with the headliners - particularly the gravely intoning singing style, and a clear love of early to mid-eighties pop music.

It soon becomes clear, however, that there's far more to uncover here. For one thing, Dixon's vocal register is a fair bit higher than Lewis Bowman's Bunnymen baritone, and there's a quivering quality which brings to mind Devendra Banhart or Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman, which serves to make these songs a whole lot more vital and beguiling.

The sprightly, harmonious flourishes of “Constellation” and a carefree “Heartbeat”, unseasonably announced as an 'ode to summer' set the tone, beat-driven serenity wrapped in Franz-style guitar, while a violinist gets up onstage for “This I Knew”. “These Trees” introduces a Jeff Buckley-style falsetto into the mix, and while there may be no David in the group, there is a lyre, and whether he welcomes the comparison or not, it's use, combined with the folk-ish sound and the natural themes of some of the songs, will surely mean this is neither the first or last review that will use the phrase “male Florence And The Machine.”

That tag will probably put as many as many people off as it will pique others' interest, and there's certainly no OTT warbling to be found here. Indeed, there's plenty of variety contained within what appears a narrow template on paper, with lots of clever, blink-and-you-might-miss detail. The pleasingly off-kilter piano in the delightfully simple “In Arms”, the lead track from the new EP, being a case in point. There's a soulful edge, with almost dubstep- style beats on show here too, clearly Dixon has used his time remixing others to great effect. Couple this with the charming sense of wonder the lyrics give off and another touchstone seems to be Jack Penate's sadly overlooked second album. Whatever comparisons you'd care to make, those that have made it here early are rapt.

A well-received opening set ends on the classic Orange Juice/Mystery Jets English pop of “Tear Them Down” , with its refrain of “the king is dead/long live the king…” Not quite royalty yet perhaps, but more like this and we can expect David's Lyre to make a claim for the crown.