If, like me, you went to this gig expecting LETTERS to be the great new hopes of Scottish music, you would have left sorely disappointed.
Their live show failed to live up to the huge promise shown by the Edinburgh newcomers in debut offerings Pipe Dreams and The Grand National – as strong a first impression from a Scottish band as I can remember.
While those recordings hint at a group with the dark, subtle broodiness of The National, on stage Letters reveal themselves to be more akin to early Idlewild.
Their thrashy instrumental opener felt rushed and erratic and it was followed up by a song that sounded like three different bands were playing at once, such was the lack of cohesion between their members.
Of course, it has to be put in the context of this being only their second gig to date, but with public statements such as, “No band I’ve seen that comes from our part of the world is better than us live” (theirs) and “the hottest new band in Scotland right now” (mine), the truth is that we’ve both ended up looking rather foolish.
SONG OF RETURN’S performance of poise and restraint couldn’t have been more timely, although singer Craig Grant did little to endear himself to neutrals in the crowd with a needlessly jaded introductory statement of, “It’s good to be here and aw that shit”.
Formed from the ashes of Union Of Knives, the group seem to have used the bitter experience of their abrupt departure from EMI to fuel their inventive, occasionally disquieting, electro-rock song stuctures.
Concentric soars thanks to layers of controlled intensity in the vein of Six By Seven (remember them?) and guitarist Louis Abbott’s menacing backing vocals, almost unrecognisable from his mannered delivery on Admiral Fallow duty.
A crunching bass riff allows Black Sail to dazzle, while the comedown of One Million Hertz is paced to perfection. Song Of Return finish their set on the indisputable high of the beat-driven Trajectory (fans of Delphic are going to wet themselves when they hear it), which even a tortured soul like Craig Grant can’t help but raise a smile to.
Letters – The Grand National
Song Of Return – The Story Of A Cell
You can hear six songs from Song Of Return’s forthcoming debut album Limits on Soundcloud.