Hollie is, of course, the daughter of Paul Cook, drummer and the quiet one from the Sex Pistols and looking at her tonight you get the impression she’s inherited quite a bit from her old man. She’s demure, obviously a bit shy in putting herself forward. Which is fine if you’re a drummer, but not so good when you’re supposed to be fronting your own show.
In fact, most of the stage announcements tonight emanate from Hollie’s drummer. This is a launch party for the Prince Fatty dub version of her eponymous debut album that came out last year. Musically it’s agreeable fare – savoury slightly wistful lovers rock embellished with the occasional dub flourish. We get most of that debut plus a cool cover of The Whispers’ And The Beat Goes On. Nice to shuffle around to, but there’s nothing gripping enough to raise it above the level of background music. Hollie seems uncomfortable in the spotlight and lacking a really strong voice or the sort of presence that demands our attention, fades into the background herself all too easily. Oh well.
Don’t know about you but sometimes I like the idea of a band better than the band itself. I love Beach House’s central conceit: quirky-looking boy and girl conjure up woozy, languid drug music with little more than a battered old organ and a slide guitar. Tonight though that image ran up against a brick wall in the shape of a poor sound and a setting that was all wrong wrong wrong. Ideally, the best place for Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s fragile wistful dreampop would be a Victorian theatre in some peeling down-at-heel seaside resort. Coney Island, after a three day binge. Not some sweaty night club in central London. As people chatted around me and all the nuances and subtleties that are so sublime on record got lost in a muddy PA, the magic slowly dissipated and they just sounded…a bit boring. The crowd didn’t seem too bothered either – only Used To Be and Zebra (from their recent, third and best album Teen Dream) garnered much of a response this evening. I’m sure I caught my friend stifling a yawn at one point.
The best pop provides a tool to unlock your own imagination. But all too often real life is unable to repay the debt run up by such idle reverie. Somewhere deep inside my mind the waves are lapping, the sun is setting and Beach House are playing their fantasy gig. But it’s not here, not like this, not tonight.