Chew Lips, Party Horse

Luke Fussell 30/04/2010

Rating: 4/5

After having had a couple of months to digest the debut Chew Lips album Unicorn I was as excited by the prospect of seeing them live as I was unsure of what to expect. The record is an interesting balance between instantly catchy pop tunes and more brooding, minimal, vocal-led pieces and I wondered how this mixture would translate into a live show. Quite well, it turns out.

The South London trio took to Cargo's wine-cellar-inspired stage at what felt like a very early 21.30, given it was a Friday night. The crowd were as eager as a London crowd seem to get, in as much as they had turned up - and in some numbers. After no small amount of shuffling and toe-treading my friends and I managed to wedge ourselves annoyingly in front of some people who had turned up earlier than us, somewhere in the middle of the trendy throng, and proceedings were kicked off with Unicorn's subdued opener Eight. I was as surprised by their choosing this track to open the gig as I was that they chose to open the album with it. It is not one to grab your attention immediately, but rather slowly lulls you round to its way of thinking. Singer Tigs' voice was as startlingly immaculate in person as on the record, something that you can't often say really, and it was almost impossible to resist the allure of this up and coming band.

The set really came alive, however, when the opening beeps of recent single Play Together emanated from the battery of Korgs flanking the charismatic front-woman. This seemingly incongruous pairing of almost melancholic disco really shone in a live setting, though perhaps a later appearance might've got this Shoreditch crowd moving in their oh-so-skinny jeans a little more readily.

As the night moved on, the band of course played almost the entirety of their album as well as a number of their other tracks, most of which I hadn't heard before. These tunes were very much disco infused, with obvious influences from the likes of Blondie, with perhaps a slight nod to Fischerspooner's first album, and as the alternating octave bass notes ran free you couldn't help but at least try to dance.

Though the music was undoubtedly strong, it was really the mesmeric presence of the lead singer that transformed the performance into a show. Her voice, as I've said, was beautiful and note perfect from start to finish, but it was something in her demeanour that made it almost impossible to take your eyes off her. Maybe it's 'cause she's really sexy - that certainly helps. Perhaps it's what the French call a certain “I don't know what”. I don't know. But having seen them live, I can understand the visual imagery behind the album cover: A peacock flanked by two parrots. That sounds harsh to the male music makers - who played their socks off - but having watched the trio for 45 minutes I wouldn't be able to pick out the two electro-gents either side of the stage in a line-up, but I could probably badly hash together something approaching Tigs' DNA sequence. Maybe it's because I'm a leery, disgusting man. Who knows?

What I do know is that Chew Lips certainly know how to pen a catchy tune and how to put on a show that will keep you entranced. The set was quite short, and finished quite early, but somehow I didn't mind. That's got to be a good sign.