Friday, 18 May 2012

Pins + IO Echo @ Birthdays, Dalston

The singer does that nonchalant mooch back and forth - the one that Ian Brown built a career on, looking gloomily disgusted with the world. Only in this case, the singer's a bone-sized blonde with the silhouette of a screwdriver and a floorlength pale pink kimono billowing around her. LA's IO Echo start like Stereolab, wearing their detached cool like armour, but they rapidly heat up and abandon themselves to the kind of mad, passionate MGMT pop where the guitars and bass boing around getting in your face and making jazz hands at your ears like incomprehensible idiots at a party.

It's kind of a let down when they feel the need to namedrop the bands who came to see them play but fuck it, they're good, so let's not hate on them too much. It's apt enough that they give chops to the Big Pink, because the London duo's seismic, belligerent sound is represented here in full force. It'll be interesting to see how this translates on record, because when you step back twenty feet IO Echo don't have the power to change your mind, let alone your life. But suspend disbelief and step back into the blast zone of the speakers and it makes instant, perfect sense. The bass drills through Birthdays' eyewatering sound system like Shell in the Niger Delta, and while there's not a new note to be found, it's a satisfying, sexy noise they make.

The problem with Pins is that Dum Dum Girls were doing this before them, and Vivian Girls before that, and the Raveonettes before that, and the Shangri-Las waaay get the picture. Unlike Pins, they all added something new to the mix. Gurlvox over a nihilistic, doomed wave of not-so-nostalgic surf guitar is never not gonna sound good, but... is this it? There has to be something new to add to this genre, but Pins didn't pack it with their flightcases, arriving instead with glum looks, sharp hair and, seemingly, the hope that this is enough. It's not. They don't attack with enough conviction to justify music so frantically referential. It's slick and familiar when they break from the 60s retro and dip into Suicide's isolated, paranoid crackle instead, but the lack of personal ideas still rankles. Hey, Pins - do more! Be more! Show us something new. Find a way to put it all together differently, or just do it harder than anyone else.

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