Venue: The Lexington Support Bands: Two Door Cinema Club, North Atlantic Oscillation Date: 12/11/09 I arrive halfway through the first support who turn out to be the second support, having swapped places. Two Door Cinema Club, for it is they, have me bristling for one brief moment as I mistake their urgent and frantic guitar-led sound for the empty, posturing math-rock of Foals and their ilk. But wait a minute … these guys have tunes. And not just any old tunes, but tunes you can dance to (or at least I imagine you could if you were of the dancing persuasion, which I am not, being a sad old dad pushing the wrong side of thirty, but you get my drift). The guitars somehow pulsate and jangle at the same time, and are topped with melodious androgynous vocals. I’m tempted to say they sound like Orange Juice if they could really play their instruments but, to be honest, I never really got those digs about Orange Juice and thought they played perfectly well, so let’s just leave that analogy hanging … Next up, in one of those quirky juxtapositions which make the reviewer’s job so much easier, North Atlantic Oscillation start off lulling me into a false sense of I’m-gonna-write-a-glowing-tribute-to-this-band through sounding uncannily like The Blue Nile. That is until about a third of the way through their first song when the lights snap on, the volume cranks up and it all goes horribly Prog. Not quite on a Muse-like scale - this is The Lexington after all – but possibly verging towards the latter-day Marillion sans Fish (who admittedly I’ve never heard but then hopefully neither have you). So the guitars are made to sound like keyboards, the keyboards sounds like symphony orchestras, every song involves at least three changes of rhythm and/or tempo and the bass guitar is one of those stumpy-looking affairs without the twiddly knobs at the end. To be fair, they do have the odd hummable moment and even break out into some gorgeous harmonies towards the end, but this noodly cleverness just isn’t my cup of tea. Cymbals Eat Guitars disappoint me a little. Which isn’t to say they weren’t great – they were - just not as great as I hoped and expected them to be. Last time I caught them they blew me away, which occurs with sad infrequency these days, and I subsequently bought and (aurally-)devoured their self-released album (since re-released through Insound) which appears to form the totality of their set tonight. Singer Joseph “Ferocious” D'Agostino looks like John Cusack circa Say Anything and writes songs which betray their obvious influences, predominantly Pavement, whilst exhibiting enough originality and quality to avoid accusations of slavish mimicry (and even if they were, it’s not as if we’re drowning in Pavement clones …) Where they occasionally come unstuck is in their all-too-frequent habit of ramping up the volume and intensity part way through almost every song. Used with restraint this can be an effective and agreeable trick, but at times it does their material a disservice - it feels as if they are attempting to bludgeon the audience into an artificial sense of excitement rather than letting natural dynamics do the work. On that previous occasion I was greatly impressed with D’Agostino’s guitar virtuosity but it is little in evidence tonight. A shame because in their softer moments, when the mellow keyboards are audible and the melodies allowed to breath, they demonstrate considerable potential. Hopefully this was just an off night. Perhaps the prior two evenings spent supporting The Flaming Lips - themselves no strangers to lack-of-subtlety and audience manipulation - has taken its toll. Or maybe they should let the cymbals eat those errant guitars next time.