Pony Club / The Vichy Government - Islington Academy

How on earth do you describe The Vichy Government? Do you point out that Jamie Manners (vocals) looks like a cross between a slim Peter Kaye and Andy Warhol? Do you draw attention to the fact that the songs consist of poetic rants set to synthesizer music? Perhaps it's best to draw attention to the fact that this is probably one of the most intelligent, and funny, bands you're likely to come across? It's probably best just to point out that they are fantastic and urge you to check them out as soon as you possibly can.

There's only two of them, but between them they generate more loathing and biting satire than is probably safe for the human mind to tolerate. Gloriously politically incorrect, the subjects they cover range from Oliver Cromwell, The Orangemen ("Fuck you and your red, white and blue...") and that great 'pop culture' unspoken truth - it's pointless doing anything cos it's all been done before. (Generation Wank Yourself To Sleep (How To Become A Cult Figure)). Not so The Vichy Government are something new and different enough to ensure that they will probably always be denied the success they deserve. Manners has a wonderful, dry, slightly camp delivery that ensures that every syllable of his bitter, funny, diatribes strike perfect pitch. Truly excellent, not for everyone, certainly, but go and see them with open mind and stout heart and you will see the beauty, truth and intelligence that they display.

If you dare, you can visit their website >here.

So, Pony Club have a strange act to follow. They couldn't be more different in terms of musical style, but there are lyrical similarities. Pony Club, of course, deal with the minutae of life or more correctly, the hollow, empty shell of life that so often passes for real life. The living of your life for other people, be it your partner, your boss or your neighbors. Mark Cullen, the driving force behind the band, looks like your quintessential indie rock star, short blond hair and all, but it's clear that the main difference between Cullen and the usual wannabies is vast intelligence and enormous stage presence.

Live, the band sound far more edgy than they do on record. One Of A Million is steeped with an anger that's somehow missing from the album and, as a result, sounds much, much better. The guitars really shine through. By contrast, Forecourt Flowers is loaded with the same subtle poignancies that pervades new album, Family Business and the contrast is stark. That they manage to cover both poles with ease is a hint of the talent contained here. Dorset Street has a rolling, haunting, almost desperate feel to it.

Pony Club are a band that deserve to do well. Cullen There's masses of potential here, and you get the feeling that the only thing stopping them from being massive is that most people just haven't heard them yet. Current single, Knees is played twice, once for an encore, and nobody cared cos it's just that good it deserved a second go. A band to keep an eye on.

Photograph taken by Natalie de Boo from the Pony Club website here.

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