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Live Music Review: Reckless Yes present Chorusgirl, Mammoth Penguins and Fightmilk at Rough Trade

23 November 18 words: Becky Timmins

If you haven’t heard of Reckless Yes before, listen up: they’re a Derbyshire-based record label and promoter, with a habit of unearthing and supporting top-notch bands. So when we got wind of their triple bill takeover at Rough Trade, we couldn’t resist heading down.

Chorusgirl. photo: Dean Street Designs

First up is Fightmilk, a London-based band who are steadily building a reputation for their off-beat power pop sound, exemplified on their recently released debut album Not With That Attitude. Obstreperous and energetic, there are moments when Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins come to mind. The set is interspersed with injections of irreverent chit-chat, including guitarist Alex letting slip that he thinks he’s in Bristol. The audience seem to forgive him, though, and they continue to roll out a selection of loud, punchy tracks from the new record, with twinges of humour. They end with Your Girlfriend, a track just short of five minutes which shows off this band’s capacity for giving it real welly. 

Next up are Mammoth Penguins, a trio from Cambridge who drift onto Rough Trade’s intimate stage with a timidity which belies what is about to happen. Not long after they kick off their set, I am beguiled by their no-fuss brand of indie. The bass is the engine here, powering the astute lyrics and playful rhythms forward with infectious pace. Waves of jubilant pop punk flow through their noisy, lo-fi sound, with some fantastic three-way vocal moments scattered throughout. The Kills and Courtney Barnett spring to mind when they play Strength in my Legs, and I am left hankering for more from this intriguing three-piece.

There’s a real buzz in the air as headliners Chorusgirl take to the intimate Rough Trade stage. As part of the Reckless Yes community, Fightmilk and Mammoth Penguins have the shared ability to channel dissatisfaction with the everyday into joyous indie pop, and Chorusgirl are no exception. Hot off the heels of their latest record release – Shimmer and Spin - the clue is very much in the name with this band. Choral melodies driven by snappy indie riffs hit you from the get go, harmonious yet pleasingly discordant. “I feel like Freddie Mercury if he were fronting an indie pop band,” lead singer and guitarist Silvi Wersing tells us, before unveiling hazy anthem Demon Baby.

Confident, unconventional musings on boredom and the mundanity of life are clearly this band’s jam, and I’m instantly hooked. From offbeat indie hit No Moon, to the melodious In Dreams, Chorusgirl draw from the likes of Cocteau Twins to produce elevatory eighties-inspired pop, channelled through a hazy indie lens. Delicate at times, explosive at others, the delightful vocal harmonies at the centre of their sound make this band a seriously compelling prospect. Closing with the infectiously rhythmic Oh, To Be a Defector firmly cements Chorusgirl reverently in the minds of tonight’s Rough Trade audience.

Reckless Yes presented Chorusgirl, Mammoth Penguins and Fightmilk at Rough Trade on Friday 16 November 2018

Rough Trade website

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