The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

Bill Cummings 27/08/2006

Rating: 4/5

The Victorian English Gentlemen's club is an exclusive one, made up of three members from Cardiff: frontman Adam with a pained voice that's inhabited by the ghost of Frank Black, and Wire-esque guitars that cut and squall, then there's bassist Louise's thudding rumble and sultry vocals, and elegant Emma's surprisingly eager tirade of militaristic drumming, together they make up a unusual but captivating off kilter pop beat combo, who write songs about "death, sailing and alcohol."

The standouts are clear, opener and former single “The Tales Of Hermit Mark'” is literally insane, built upon wave after wave of ticking. Addictive, schizo time signatures, slabs of buzzing guitar, and a frankly bonkers high-pitched yelping David Byrne-esque refrain: it's as if Adam has straight jacketed and carted off to the local asylum, by his fellow VEG clubbers, screeching as they beat a retreat towards the entrance. Then there's “Amateur Man” that's simply a delight, their treble barrel hokey kokey vocals (“AHHHHAHHHHHH!”) career into view and bounce off these angular back drops, like fire flies in a jar, before stuttering and sparring for their life in the chorus.

Elsewhere there's endless amounts of pleasure to be gained from “Ban The Gin”. a punky call for prohibition shot through with stinging guitar notes, and some spectacularly catchy lines, I defy anyone not to start singing “Ban the Gin! Ban the Gin! WOOO YEAH!” for days, after you've heard this. While “My Son Spells Backwards” takes the White Stripes songwriting formula and turns it on its head: thudding bass, drums that beat their way into your head, and a melodic line that see's quite bizarre imagery about a dyslexic kid (“And he wears some coloured glasses to SCHOOL! TO SCHOOL!”) given life by all three VEG clubbers; elastic vocal sparring.

It's not all fast-paced DIY/New Wave pop though, the whirring guitars and military drums of “Impossible Sightings Over Shelton” make for a more impressively reflective interlude, while Louise takes up the vocals on the wonky stop start verses of “Dead Anyway”, its Breeders-stylings giving way to the serrated guitar edges of the dark Nirvana Bleach-esque chorus.

I don't know if The Victorian English Gentlemen's club will ever be fashionable enough to cross over into the NME mainstream, but who cares? Sure, at times this album is unsettling and uncomfortable to listen to and there are rough edges here still: but that's part of its character, at their best VEGC are able to twist these tracks into exhilaratingly catchy breaths of fresh air. Cock an ear to the VEGC, they are truly a select club of twisted noise makers.