Resembling slap-dash Texan carnies, Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers immediately appeal. They’ll possibly balk at the comparison, but imagine the Rumble Strips with less Dexy’s, more Morricone and a touch of Rawhide and you’re close to the essence of their rootin’ tootin’ sound.
Midway through their set, First Aid Kit thank the audience for being “so quiet and peaceful”, before hastily adding “we don’t mean that ironically!” Sarcasm would have been understandable, but despite a rowdy bar occasionally encroaching upon their subtle instrumentation their anything-but-delicate voices ring affectingly clear throughout. A cover of Donavan’s Universal Soldier succinctly encapsulates their charms, its naïve sentiment and winsome melody underscoring the Swedish duo’s wide-eyed allure while emphasising their crystalline vocals. A muted miniature freak-out from Johanna at the end, meanwhile, foregrounds the playfulness just beneath their surface earnestness.
Fanfarlo are less successful at dissipating their own cloud of earnestness, though there’s plenty else to enjoy. Despite several members jostling for space, their ambitious compositions - topped with singer Simon Balthazar’s emotively reedy vocals - are remarkably cohesive and cogent. But there’s the rub: for long stretches, Fanfarlo rest on plateaus rather than scaling the peaks their multi-instrumental ‘epic-indie’ sub-genre offers, pleasant rather than proselytising. But though they may not climb as high as might have been hoped tonight, they share the same widescreen vistas as their contemporaries without succumbing to self-importance, and songs like Luna have a tuneful vibrancy that more than makes up for lulls elsewhere.