They might not be typical teen heartthrobs, but Leadmill’s steel stage tonight holds a relatively fresh-faced crowd eager to see grunge-pop artists Splashh, supported by Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs. Both bands are retrospective in terms of sound (and dress sense), albeit with 20 years separating their musical influence.
Splashh’s LP Comfort dropped in early September, produced by the band themselves after a whirlwind year of tours, festivals and a fairly prolific set of single releases. This recent jaunt around the UK has been the biggest tour to date for the hardworking group, who impressively only formed in February 2012. Formed in Hackney, with their roots down under (half the band are Australian and a third member is from New Zealand), comparisons to Tame Impala’s psychedelic vibes are a given, but Splashh’s sound encompasses everything from the angsty grunge of Nirvana to bittersweet Britpop harmonies from the likes of Sleeper.
Support comes from Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs, who fill the tiny stage dressed in a uniform of paisley shirts and Warhol-esque roll neck jumpers. Their debut album Clarietta, produced by the legendary Edwin Collins, has received snippets of praise in the music press, with their role as one of many bands breathing life into the UK’s floundering ‘guitar band’ scene. At first the band look a bit awkward and disconnected, staring out into the crowd like rabbits caught in headlights. However once they warm up they seem to get into the swing of things. The riffs are catchy enough, and they know how to string a song together, but at times the 1970s clichés lack originality, making the sound verging on imitation rather than influence. Despite this, some tracks which on record fall flat are brought to life, including organ-heavy single ‘Things We Be’. The scuzzy cacophony of guitars and keys on ‘You Haven’t Got A Chance’ is complimented by Charlie Boyer’s Buzzcock’s-style twang. New song ‘Stunners’ was a stand out, and hints that Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs could be growing better with time. There’s just something about them which doesn’t quite click; enjoyable enough but hardly inspiring.
As Splashh take to the stage the enthusiasm of their fans makes up for the slightly underwhelming turnout, and a number of latecomers boosts the energy in the room. For a band who look as laid back on stage as they sound, their set is impressively slick. Compared to their early outings, they’ve tightened and refined their trademark sound without losing their slacker sensibilities.
Opening with ‘Washed Up’, which is swiftly followed by ‘Lemonade’, Splashh are a band who have clearly honed their sound through a year of solid practice into something quite special, more comparable to My Bloody Valentine or Pixies than ever before.
‘Vacation’ fills the room with their signature fuzzy feedback, and ‘So Young’ is a punk-tinged belter which gets the whole crowd moving. For an act which once might have been written off as a garage band playing pleasant summery surf-rock, their show ranges from dreamy and wistful harmonies to more dark and melancholy melodies. Their recent shows feel like a celebration of their progression into confident and acclaimed musicians, and singer Sasha Carlson is clearly in the mood to celebrate as he playfully asks the crowd if anyone is having a house party tonight. They end their set with single ‘All I Wanna Do’ followed by a mesmerising extended version of ‘Need It’, full of chaotic distortion without detracting from the chorus’s blissful vocals. Splashh’s unique blend of laid back grunge, trippy synth and nostalgic wanderlust is definitely ideal for kicking back at a party, but tonight they’ve proven they are more than mere background music.