Finnmark + The Wave Pictures @ Brudenell, January 2014
Brudenell, Wednesday 29th January 2014
It’s my second time seeing Burley Park’s Finnmark and the band are quickly becoming one of my favourites. When I last saw these guys they were a two-piece accompanied by a backing track. Since then, they have recruited ex-Blood Oranges Ben Lewis on drums and a female keyboardist. As a full band, Finnmark really hit the mark.
Finnmark play unique, jangly indie pop. It’s catchy, clever and charming. Singer Edward North is a smart looking gentleman who pipes an intimate baritone over simple guitar chords and chiming synth lines. The band play a range of songs from their “We’re Not Köping” EP. The lyrics are honest and melancholy, but this melancholia is balanced by punchy bass guitar lines, catchy choruses and an overall magnetism. Finnmark’s songs focus on the hopelessness and confusion of modern life (“We Just Can’t Win”, “Everybody’s Dying”) but contrast these themes with the idea of escaping to a nostalgic, Bergman-movie Fårö island. There’s something: this band truly loves Sweden. And since they describe it in such an idealistic way, so do the audience.
Playing live, Finnmark sound tight and professional, with Edward’s politeness and unpretentiousness shining through the set. Finnmark’s “Top of the Pop’s” is reminiscent of the Vaseline’s “Molly’s Lips”, whilst set highlight “Everybody’s Dying” is completely unique and brilliantly catchy.
The Wave Pictures have come unstuck in time. Listening to them play live, it’s impossible to place them in any particular time period: they could play alongside the Kinks in the 60s, Jonathan Richman in the 70s or the Violent Femmes in the 80s. And this is probably because The Wave Pictures are the most indie band in England. I don’t mean indie as in barefaced oh-so-contrary counterculturalism. What I mean is The Wave Pictures pay no mind to the current state of music or what is or isn’t cool: they play entirely in their own way.
Singer David Tattersall is an unassuming frontman. Smiling and dressed in a solid colour V-neck, he is the last person you’d expect to front an alternative rock band. The Wave Pictures play their signature woozy borderline anti-folk to the crowd at the Brudenell. “Stay Here & Take Care of the Chickens” is an interesting and enchanting early highlight and introduces the audience for Tattersall’s capacity for guitar solos. The band mostly play material from their latest double album, City Forgiveness. Many of these songs, like “Before This Day”, show a strong Paul Simon Graceland influence, with sweepy guitar twangs and unconventional rhythms.
In a live setting, David’s lyrics are even more engaging than on record. These lyrics include poetic observations and sweet sentimentality bathed in neuroticism. But most striking in a live setting is the band’s technical ability. Few bands get crazy guitar wang-outs, but The Wave Pictures do. David’s style of guitar is so clumsy and brittle that every solo is exciting and unindulgent.
The Wave Pictures end their set to an appreciative crowd with 2 encores, including 2009’s “Tiny Craters In the Sand” which gets many people dancing and having a good time.