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Deadletter / She’s In Parties / Borough Council @ YES Pink Room review – dodging danger to deliver the goods

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Featured image and gallery: Gracie Hall

Huddled around a Yamaha keyboard as though it’s a roaring campfire, Hastings trio Borough Council kick things off with a lusty “Hey!” reverberating around the venue. The spidery riff from new single ‘Casino’ follows, as Haydn Ackerley’s laconic voice flits between octaves.

Frontloading with debut outing, ‘Prescribed’, you could be forgiven for thinking that they’d used up their best tunes early, but no. There’s something nocturnal about them. ‘Radio On’, in particular, occupies the liminal space between sleep and lucid dream. They leave it until the final song, ‘Lying on the Floor’, before letting rip in their own modest way, Ackerley roughhousing his guitar’s strings into submission.

Borough Council know their way around a tune, they just don’t signpost it. A fantastic start.

She’s In Parties are quite the juxtaposition. Invoking The Bangles, The Cure and even a smidge of Belinda Carlisle, they would’ve been a fixture on Top of the Pops in the ‘80s and an immovable presence from the era’s coming-of-age movie soundtracks. 

With his peroxide bouffant and romantic goth attire, guitarist Herbie Wiseman has seemingly parachuted in from Duran Duran. Katie Dillon, meanwhile, leads the Colchester quartet. She stretches her arms out of frilly sleeves as she nails a series of big notes, theatrical literalism on show as she mimes a tear and points to her watch in time to the corresponding lyrics. 

It’s pure ham with a hunk of cheese. Practically a Ploughman’s. But those down the front lap it up.

Manchester has taken Deadletter straight to its heart. Three months since selling out two shows on the same night in YES’s basement, the London-via-Malton outfit are back to headline the more capacious, but equally thronged, Pink Room. A Beatlesmania shriek pierces the air as the band take their spots, parading the most impressive lineup of carved cheekbones the city has seen since the Chanel show.

However, something is amiss. As much as he throttles his tambourine and raids his box of Mick Jagger inflections, frontman Zac Lawrence looks as though he’s just come around from general anaesthetic. Lethargic eyes barely open, autopilot on. The mass handclaps of ‘The Snitching Hour’ shakes away some of the slumber, but during the early knockings, they always seem on the cusp of calamity. George Ullyott’s bass strap gives up the ghost, while it’s only saxophonist Poppy Richler’s reflexes that stop James Bates’s guitar from denting her temple.

They hit their stride by time current single, ‘Degenerate Inanimate’, comes out swinging. A smart pause before the final chorus ignites the pit, highlighting that Deadletter are at their most potent with a pantomime call-and-response. Lawrence doesn’t break his granite-faced kayfabe all night, but it’ll keep his internal fires ablaze when he hears the hooks of ‘Hero’, ‘Madge’s Declaration’ and ‘Fit for Work’ chanted back at him. 

Despite the sloganeering, this is not revolution rock. They’re deadly once up to speed, though, and larger venues beckon once their debut album drops.

Borough Council @ YES Pink Room

She’s In Parties @ YES Pink Room

Deadletter @ YES Pink Room

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Ian Burke

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