A Sixty Million Postcards south coast double-header is always something to look forward to. Although free-entry café bar nights risk disappointment, there was plenty of promise about this strong Thursday night billing courtesy of We Broke Free.
Bournemouth band Cherry Lotus saw proceedings underway, with the encouragement of a decent-sized local following. It’s early days for these boys, although the release last year of their stylishly-shot poledancer-featuring video for Get What You Want couldn’t be accused of lacking ambition.
“[Cherry Lotus] have more up their sleeves than they have put on display tonight”
The band’s support set showcases their brand of often frenetic garage-infused indie, with singer Joe Grange a likeable if self-effacing front man. Some of the songs feel a little unsharpened and out of focus, although Paul Nicola-Miller’s solid drumming does everything it can to anchor them. Cherry Lotus engage better with some of the variety they introduce later in their set, suggesting that they have more up their sleeves than they have put on display tonight.
There is little to counter the old slur about Gosport that the only good thing about it is the road – or indeed ferry – out. Tonight’s headliners Arcade Hearts have, over the last couple of years, created an exciting musical palette from precisely the kind of small-town dead-end ennui instilled by their home town and its ilk. It’s a welcome return to a Bournemouth venue with which Arcade Hearts are familiar; having gigged successfully at Sixty Million Postcards last year. It’s also timely; with a BBC Introducing “Ones to Watch” commendation recently stuffed under their belts.
The band exude confidence right from the off, Dan Surridge-Smith’s vocal is immediately on point and grows throughout the set, arguably better than it is on the band’s recorded output to date. Any casual observers are introduced to a coherent and well-honed sound which sits either at the accessible end of indie, or perhaps more accurately an alternative-pop which shows enough of themselves to bring something new, while hinting at the already-familiar (elements of The 1975, Foals and perhaps even Hard-Fi’s urban anthems).
“[Arcade Hearts] Humble [is]… carried along on 80s synth motifs and the biggest chorus this side of the Spinnaker Tower.”
Still with limited material on general release, tonight’s highlights are predictable. 2017’s Different Place still stands as the band’s template and rightly so; a headrush of hooks and emotion. “I want it all and I want it from you,” Surridge-Smith demands, howling like a gale straight off the English Channel. Humble was one of the standout releases of 2018 and is another of the evening’s high points, carried along on 80s synth motifs and the biggest chorus this side of the Spinnaker Tower.
Underpinning the anthemic melodies is a tight rhythm section which ensures that not only are the songs never less than danceable, they kick a bit of ass at times too. Running is just one such example, bizzarely trailed as a song the band had fallen out of love with for a while. Recalling the sort of skipping guitar licks favoured by Everything Everything, it’s hard to see how a band in such relative infancy would have the luxury of discarding something of that quality.
“New material [from Arcade Hearts]… suggests a band about to give a final push for the summit and who have no need to apologise for biding their time.”
Surridge-Smith introduces Vanity with an air of regret that it didn’t end up making them the household names that they expected it would. Not bad for what was arguably only the third best song on last year’s self-titled e.p. There is also time for a hint of new material at the end of the night, which suggests a band about to give a final push for the summit and who have no need to apologise for biding their time with a view to getting it right.
This was a night when Arcade Hearts reinforced their credentials. The impression given is that they know only too well that the time has come to really deliver. We’ve got your backs, boys.