Review/Interview: The Lines
Brudenell Social Club
words: Max Bruges
The first thing to be said of The Lines, beyond the usual buzzwords of indie-post-punk-guitar-upcoming-breakout, is that they have a pulse. Not in a wishy-washy, PR advertorial, struggling-to-think-of-an-opening-review-line kind of way, but in a very real and (all pretention aside) essentially musical way. Every chord is accented, every beat raised on the shoulders of giants by the liberal application of bass drum, and every line of lyric rocks on and up with the swaying of frontman Alex. In a lesser band, this is a sure-fire soporific guarantee of mediocrity, usually meriting the fateful condemnatory adjective of ‘plodding’. But, through sheer gall and variety, The Lines manage to shrug off this deadly concession, elevating themselves to its vaunted linguistic cousin ‘hypnotic’.
“We’ve had a lot of different line ups over the last couple of years, as well as a few set-backs; but we’ve changed a lot.” Alex stoically intones, sipping on a pre-show beer and nodding at the self-styled “crazy sample noise-making man”, lead guitarist Dean. “We’ve all got different styles, so we like to try and revisit old tracks whenever we can. I mean–” agrees Dean, before being cut off by the entrance of drummer, Danny. “Ai’ight lads,” he grunts, The Muppet’ sAnimal with human proportions and a grubbier t-shirt, “you know I’m the most important, right?” Oh really? “Yeah, I’m something. I’m very special.” I can see. “He doesn’t really have a lot of hair,” Alex drily mutters, “it’s just a very large head.”
I start with the standard-issue gambit ‘of all your venues, isn’t Leeds just the best?’, soliciting polite nods from Alex and Dean. Danny, of course, has other ideas: “S’alright. Outside Cardiff was better, though. Proper Shameless crowd, plenty of underage sla–”, before the dictaphone tactfully fails. PR may not be any drummer’s strong point, but they certainly know how to conjure an interesting gig tagline.
It helps, of course, to have an excellent roster of songs: a set-list embarrassingly full and developed for a single-album back-catalogue. A casual browse of Spotify might leave the passing under the impression of the band as little more than light, Intragram re-imagining of the guitar-heavy formula that has already been perfected by groups like the Pidgeon Detectives.
But the transferral from disc to stage brings something else to the band, another eerie layer of depth to the otherwise somewhat shallow sound. Pre-recorded strings, copious reverb, mesmeric vocals, all contributing to more than a little Kasabian nostalgia, and all allowing the band o admirably fill the room with the sort of post-punk belligerence that so befits the slightly groggy and frayed decor of the Brudenell Social Club.
Most importantly, however, there’s humour, an element so often lacking from the set-lists of angry, talented young men with six-strings. Nothing obnoxious, but blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gags that keep an skeptical audience member (ahem) on their toes: from the surreptitious cowbell of El Matador, to the self-aware electronic tomfoolery and bombastic drumming of Loudmouth. It’s not a flawless set, but it’s bloody good fun.