Thursday, April 26, 2018

Live Review :: The Academic + Sea Girls :: The Cellar, Oxford - Apr 21 2018


The Academic + Sea Girls

The Cellar, Oxford

April 21 2018

Words: Richard Brabin

In amongst a seemingly never ending sea of chirpy indie bands with chirpy choruses and chirpy hairdo’s come two more pretenders to a most coveted and fought over throne. From Sundara Karma through to The Hunna via The Magic Gang, Fickle Friends and The Night Cafe, the personnel is the only real change in an endless barrage of happy-go-lucky personas and non-threatening chorus lines.

The Academic and Sea Girls - who head this Oxford night as part of Abbie McCarthy's Good Karma Club tour - have both found their foothold on this well oiled, stripper pole of radio-friendly unit shifting and begin their formal ascent this year.

First up, Sea Girls, the London four-piece getting in some practice for their own headline October tour. I have to say I found them somewhat formulaic and unimaginative in their compositions. I may be out on a limb here, but to me they sound like a collage of their contemporaries: the cheeky little guitar licks of Fickle Friends and the chipper hooks of The Magic Gang, and it all starts to feel a little like going to the fifth sequel of a film that was never that good in the first place.

Step forward The Academic, the Irish contingent who do have a little more craft to their boppy, shiny compositions. There’s a little depth in places as they hop through their set of material from their recently released debut album, 'Tales from the Backseat'.

They leap along like baby lambs through 'Television', 'Why Can't We Be Friends' and 'Bear Claws', all being similarly well-received by fans at the front.

Short, swift numbers with choruses that whip up a pace. But one can’t help but feel this indie quicksand we currently seem to be sinking into needs to reach a finite conclusion as soon as possible. Like all movements it started with a clever amalgamation of a few different ideas and for a year or two sounded vaguely passable - watered down math rock guitar work mixed with super sugary choruses and an upbeat, dance friendly rhythm section became a foolproof (literally) way of making coherent pop songs for the masses.

Maybe I’m being overly harsh on these individual bands to make a point, but for me both tonight felt predictable and sadly, mediocre in what they had to offer.

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