The Zodiac, Oxford
27th November 2006
The Joy Division comparisons are inevitable: the Nazi era name; the nervy, haunted front man; the edgy and angular bass-heavy repetition. Luckily, White Rose Movement do offer far more than a mere tribute act, and other influences are evident: New Order and Duran Duran for the synth-guitar blend, early Spandau Ballet, even Nine Inch Nails for the industrial thudding.
There’s an undeniable energy and a compelling anger in the room tonight, from bassist Owen Dyke’s viciously frugging peroxide fringe to keyboard player Taxxi’s ice-cold pouting. Singer Finn Vine is captivating; he yelps histrionically yet sings rather unintelligibly, so any message in the lyrics will require reference to their debut album Kick produced by man-of-the-moment Paul Epworth (The Rakes, Futureheads, Bloc Party etc). Finn also breaks the aloof act by chatting to the crowd, saying they’re happy to be in Oxford – it’s their spiritual home (full of posh and clever people, you see).
Girls in the Back and Love is a Number are barnstorming – mysterious, catchy and hook-laden. However, some songs are melodically quite dull – often closer to a series of slogans than the traditional verse-chorus formula. Nothing emulates Love is a Number, though they do try: Alsatian and London’s Mine are hummable.
I really want to like them more than I do: for me, they just don’t have enough stand-out songs yet, and I can’t help thinking that The Faint currently cover the same electro indie post-punk dance ground more effectively and memorably. They could be so much more – they’ve got the sound, the looks, the style, the attitude, the backstory (all members but Taxxi grew up together in a commune in Norfolk). Now all they need is more good material and a distinct sound of their own. They’re on their way though, and if they keep it up, they should be brilliant by album number 3.