Friday, 19 November 2010

Kisses @ XOYO

I don't know about you, but every time I hear 'Groovejet' I'm instantly transported back to summer. The second that plane takes off and Sophie Ellis Bextor's Sloaney voice comes in, I'm on a beach, my skin is sun-kissed and my toes are encrusted with sand. Aaaaaah. Kisses have got a similar kind of vibe tonight. Sure, it's Hackney, not Honduras, and it's so cold outside that I've had to check a shirt, cardigan and duffel coat into the cloak room, but there's something about their Italo-disco pop that makes you want to drink cocktails and buy ugly souvenirs you'll regret when you get home. Hell, squint hard enough and tonight's audience almost become the kind of Balearic beauties that you'd want so share a holiday romance with. The problem is, I seem to be the only one who feels like this.

Admittedly, the set is dogged with problems. Even in such a small venue, the poor sound quality means that the chatter of the audience is the same volume as the band. One of the amps breaks down just after the second song, meaning an awkward transition while it's being fixed, and as the group first come on stage there's a nails-down-blackboard screech of accidental feedback which has everyone grimacing in pain. As annoying as all these problems are though, none of them hold a candle to the main one – the audience just don't seem to give a flying one. The whole event is strangely lacking in atmosphere. One guy reads a newspaper. Everyone is pretending to be too cool to notice that Matthew Horne (him from Gavin and Stacey) and the chubby one from the Klaxons have entered. This should be a riot, especially as the band's album 'The Heart of Nightlife' is released today. It's not.

This isn't for lack of trying. For all of their awkward indie outsider act, the band are good company. Their sound is dreamy and gorgeous. Comparisons to 'Summer Camp' are lazy, but then so am I. Both bands are boyfriend and girlfriend teams and lo- fi to the point you can practically hear the cat jumping on their bed and dislodging their synths. What sets Kisses apart as a live act though is that they mix an LA coolness with their clean European style. They're just as much into Sade and Duran Duran as The Smiths. While tonight's performance puts more emphasis on the traditional indie rock elements of their oeuvre, they still have a thumping disco back beat and squishy synths that fizz up in all sorts of unexpected places, making a sound like having your head submerged in a swimming pool of lemonade. Even though a bit of ironic nodding is as raucous as the crowd is going to get, the music is extremely danceable in a kind of Yeasayer meets Ministry of Sound chill-out album way.

Not quite the party the band had hoped for then. The truth is, they deserve far better than this. The biggest reaction of the night comes when Jesse admits that they are going to have to finish their set because they've run out of songs. As laughter erupts from the crowd and the band, it's almost with a sense of relief. Let's hope the rest of Europe welcome them with the open arms they deserve.

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