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Hold Kiss Kill
Blindness
We Walk On Ice

Old Queen's Head, London
Tuesday February 21 2012

The upstairs room of the Old Queen's Head is all tarnished gilt and distressed Victoriana (more faux than real, I suspect). It looks like a Hollywood film set version of the drawing room of an English stately home that's fallen on hard times. But the somerwhat un-rock 'n' roll surroundings don't seem to upset We Walk On Ice.

They're a boy/girl drums/guitar duo, but in spite of this minimalist line-up they make a robust powerpop racket, with just a touch of sixties-ish waywardness around the edges. In a way, I'd like them to be more wayward, because waywardness is good in my book. The more, the better. We Walk On Ice never go too far into left field, but their wall of sound skirts the edge in an enticing fashion.

We Walkn On Ice

Arranged incongruously in front of the fireplace, Blindness still manage to conjure up an atmosphere of purposeful glammy-punkiness. They give it their trademark stomp and swagger, the beat walloping hard, the guitar revving up and skidding about like a boy racer on an icy road. Blindness know how to bring the noise all right.

And Beth Rettig, on vocals and angst, writhes and squirms and fends off invisible demons as she battles her way through the songs, as if each one is a metaphorical mountain that needs to be climbed. She always reaches the peaks, though - even if it does get a bit freaky sometimes on the way. She'll collapse on the floor amid the band's churning tumult, and then claw her way up again, while the strut and swell and swashbuckle of the music marches ever onwards.

Blindness

In theory, Hold Kiss Kill are indie superstars. I say 'in theory' because in spite of Artrocker magazine's approval, assorted fesival appearances, 'nuff media interest, and all the trimmings, they don't seem to have attracted much of a crowd here tonight. The audience thins out noticeably after Blindness pack up, leaving Hold Kiss Kill to play to a room which, while not exactly empty, isn't exactly stuffed, either.

Hold Kiss KillIn a way, I can see why Hold Kiss Kill might struggle to win attention. They play a decent, but ultimately rather unmemorable, take on that fuzzy, post-Jesus And Mary Chain psychedelic garage-punk sound.

Their songs are meticulously constructed things, carefully allowed to get a little bit messy, a little bit shoegazey, but always assembled with a cap-doff to traditional rock 'n' roll songwriting.

The guitar is judiciously distorted. The singer, peeking out from under her blonde fringe, sings with just the right kind of glassy detachment. So far, so good, but there are umpteen bands doing this sort of stuff, and, to be blunt about it, I think The Raveonettes pretty much own this musical area right now.

Hold Kiss Kill aren't bad, but they have the air of an underdog team in the FA cup final - happy to be in the competition, good enough to have got so far. But always knowing, in their heart of hearts, that they ain't gonna win.

 

Blindness: MySpace | Facebook

Hold Kiss Kill: Facebook

We Walk On Ice: Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

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