It took me some time to catch up with Elizabeth Bernholz’s alter ego Gazelle Twin in a live setting, what with her lack of home town performance dates, but she was worth every second of the wait. In a knock-out and characteristically unsettling visual spectacle, Bernholz stalked the stage and scanned the audience like some cretaceous avatar, in keeping with the sentiments of her latest album, Pastoral. The album’s message that Britain is a dangerously deluded, hubristic dinosaur comes across loud and clear, as did the brutal, unnerving live beats that provide the backdrop to Bernholz’s perfectly incongruous, almost angelic, soprano vocals. This was a show with more than just one toe in performance art. The Gazelle Twin image is every bit as important as the Gazelle Twin sound, and its latest incarnation, as faceless court jester meets football fan, meets St. George’s flag, meets a certain, highly corporate, ubiquitous soft drink, is as striking as it is disturbing. This is very much art in the context of its time, chewing and spewing the political landscape that it finds itself in. The end result was thrilling, haunting and yet strangely reassuring.
It has been one hell of a year. From the influx of thousands of artists during festival season to watching many of our most-loved Brighton bands bloom into genuine world beaters, 2018 has been an incredibly successful year for music locally. Our Brightonsfinest writers now look back over the past 12 months to remember their highlights on record and in the live sphere as well as the ones we missed.
The three year gap between 2015’s Double Down and this year’s 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart (which we called “a triumphant return”) has caused a decline of sorts for Darwin Deez. Having played at Concorde 2 on the Double Down tour, they hit Komedia on their latest tour. Nevertheless, judging from the flocks of teenagers waiting outside before the doors even opened, and an exuberance for the music – both old and new – that you don’t see everywhere, Darwin Deez are still a force of nature in the indie world. With a set spanning all four of his records, but still with a focus on his most popular debut, Darwin Deez gives his fans exactly what they want.
The quirky natured New Yorkers fronted by the wonderful Darwin Smith are back, bringing with them a delightful narrative-led record which depicts exactly what it says on the tin. 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart could not be more literal, this is an album of love, loss and a rekindling heart; if you were a fan of the Darwin Deez debut back in 2010, you’ll certainly find some familiar territory here.
Darwin Deez has announced his fourth album, 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart, will be released in August, proceeded by new single ‘The World’s Best Kisser’. He’s also announced a UK tour, including a date in Brighton on 2nd October.
The emphasis, it seems, will be on the lyrics. “Ever since I bought my first CD – Last Splash by The Breeders – I’ve been internally railing against the kind of vague nonsensical stuff that passed for lyrics in the 90s”, he explains. “It’s not that it was objectively bad, but it was so cryptic and over my 13-year-old head that it infuriated me. Everyone is getting a free pass, lyrically”.