My Latest Novel/It Hugs Back/Soft Hearted Scientists - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

A blazing hot summer’s day has seen Cardiff deserted; almost everyone has run to the hills but a few remain and they’ve pitched up at Clwb to see the latest eclectic Swn bill.

It is an early start and we arrive halfway through a rare Soft Hearted Scientists set of Syd Barrett inspired psychedelic folk music. Road to Rhayader, with its plucked banjo melodies, impresses as does the pastoral Westward Leading which develops into a pulsating mantra which closes the set and whets the appetite for the new album.

There’s a work friendly 11pm curfew for tonight’s event so the band turnarounds are impressively speedy. There’s hardly time to grab a beer before 4AD hopefuls It Hugs Back appear on stage and take us all back to 1991 for some proficient shoegazey breezes which recall early Teenage Fanclub with touches of My Bloody Valentine. The blistering sonic shrieks emanating from an acoustic guitar must be experienced to be believed, although the vast array of analogue effects pedals were threatening to overspill the tiny stage.

So efficient is the changeover between bands that My Latest Novel are ready to go 10 minutes early so they take the opportunity to have a fag break. Violin player Laura McFarlane parks herself next to me as she waits for her bandmates to return and we discuss the band’s excitement at their impending Bush Hall date and their bemusement at a totally off the wall demolition of a review from the NME. The conclusion? No publicity is bad publicity. Whatever has been said, there’s certainly no ‘wankery’ on show tonight, merely a heart lifting blend of Glaswegian Beach Boy harmonies and celtic modality underpinned by a sublime ‘wall of noise’ crafted by serious musicians. At some points in the evening there are three guitarists plus bass and violin intertwining to create a mind melting soundscape which never threatens to drift into aimless cacophony. It isn’t all about noise however as, at times, the folkier side of the band is allowed to shine through, with violin, harmonium and voices combining to create something McCusker-esque. They must be putting something in the water up in Scotland as, what with The Twilight Sad, State Broadcasters et al there’s barely any need to go elsewhere for your music these days. Like the Wedding Present, they don’t do encores. We are left wanting more.

Category Gig Review

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