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:: From The Kites Of San Quentin :: The Narrows :: PVT ::
10 May 2011 / Ruby Lounge / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Question: who the fuck are Pivot? No, not tonight's headliners, now known as PVT which makes them sound like a type of industrial glue or something, we mean whoever it was that forced the Australians to change their name. This is one of the thoughts going through our minds as we survey the not especially populated Ruby Lounge: PVT's ventures to these shores are infrequent and we'd have expected a bigger crowd. However, factor in students' exams, a crucial home game for Manchester City and the fact that there are several great gigs every night in Manchester for the duration of May including Everything Everything down at the Academy (not to mention the forward expansion of festival season) - you can't do them all.

The smart money is here tonight though as with no tour support Ruby Lounge has found some top notch local ones - both already widely covered here at MM, but there's a reason for that. In the case of The Narrows, the reason is rhythms that sound like crunching machinery, synths that sound like a car-boot-sale Pet Shop Boys and a frontman who sounds like he's got something to get off his chest. This is electropop but not in the conventional sense - it's bigger, heavier and darker, prefers broadsheets to style mags and doesn't actually care if you like it or not. Lots of people do, it seems, as in just a few short months the oddball trio have hit most of the city's radars. As indeed have the next band From The Kites Of San Quentin who just seem to get better with every gig: singer Alison is on great form, dancing around with a look of sheer joy like she's just stuck a particularly good record on in the privacy of her bedroom. The set includes both their tracks off the recent Gulf Records split ten inch but it's pretty impossible to pick which started life as a Borland track and which was all their own as their unique sound - a thick oscillating mesh of post-trip-hop beats, processed synth trips and Alison's other-worldly siren-songs. As we have said before, the great thing about the sound of Manchester 2011 is that there is no defining sound, just a whole load of talent and imagination and these are two very different but equally exciting facets of it.

PVT might just be the least Australian band from Australia ever. From a country where about half the young male population seem to carry a guitar at all times in case of the need for a loose-haired singsong (yeah, OK, a gross generalisation but one backed up by first-hand observation) this Warp-signed trio would find their closest musical contemporaries here in Manchester in the form of Working For A Nuclear Free City and PLANK!. Undulating synths wrap around post-rock textures; words come in odd little clipped yelps and the sound sucks you into its whirlpool. There is a distinct difference though, between older tracks and the more electronically-inclined fruits of recent third album "Church With No Magic" and sometimes the contrasts break the flow a bit - but this was never going to be one of those po-faced experimental-act shows anyway. They're too down-to-earth for that, joking at one points about how Lady Gaga ripped off one of their introductions and responding affably to a fan who towards the end loudly tells them "there weren't many of us, but we like you". (Mind you on that aforementioned trip down under, I observed subtle acoustic acts treated to friendly heckling). They like us enough to come back for an encore, anyway: "what do you want?" and the crowd consensus of "In The Blood" is granted, its twisting Dusseldorf jam flavour sending everyone off on a good one.

From The Kites Of San Quentin
The Narrows

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