Stephen Morris reviews Cheltenham's The Dirty Tricks

By Stephen Morris
Website contributor

Image caption,
Cheltenham-based indie band The Dirty Tricks has six members: Tommy, Jack, Joe, Joe, Harry and Sam

Cheltenham's The Dirty Tricks have been impressing some important people.

Annie Nightingale saw them perform and thought they "really had something". So that's quite impressive.

I once had a text message read out by Steve Lamacq on 6 Music. But it's really not the same.

So what is it about The Dirty Tricks that makes the likes of Ms. Nightingale sit up and take notice?

It's a strange question to answer: principally because the thing that is most striking about them is how The Dirty Tricks have so successfully caught hold of the zeitgeist.

Theirs is the sound of the 80s reconstituted and reprocessed. Hence the zeitgeist allusions.

There's a bit of The Edge's guitar work here ('History'), a bit of Echo and the Bunnymen there. And a lot of Morrissey everywhere.

For local (and more recent) comparisons, see The Crowd and Atakarma.

The music is at times lingering and haunting ('Spanish Sahara') at others fast paced and relentless ('The Night').

Despite the influences of the eighties acts above, along with the likes of Coldplay and Keane, The Dirty Tricks' sound remains entirely consistent across its up beat and more restrained songs.

They're a band with a tight, well rehearsed sound - a distinctive yet familiar enough sound with which to hit the floor running.

It's a sound which survives some of the off key moments coming from the vocal department.

Lyrically The Dirty Tricks' songs are introspective. They concern themselves with bad experiences and how people respond to them.

There are some very evocative lines like "I see you lying there/like a lilo losing air" (from 'Spanish Sahara') which summarise the sensation of creeping sadness and disappointment.

But for every good line like that, there are rather too many mixed or over used metaphors and forced rhymes ("You're decisions are concrete set/and in time you'll find that missing rhyme/that final puzzle piece" from 'The Night').

Elsewhere, there's more than a little confusion as to who the songs are about.

'History' starts off with lines like "look what they've done to you now…look how they're dragging you down" before lurching into a selfish seeming plea for help of "save me right now".

There's much to like in this band: the musical line up works brilliantly and there are moments of clarity and brilliance in the song writing.

With a bit less reliance on the rhyming dictionary and some scrubbed up vocals, we could be on to a winner.

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