Love Zombies *****
The Black Heart, Camden, 15th October 2013
As firework night is nearly upon us, it seems fitting to run the thumb over tonight's sulphurous and cordite-infused explosive neo-punky album launch spectacular with a nod to the memorial of the burning of a catholic anarchist. Obviously.
Opening tonight's display in the not much bigger than a family firework selection box venue are trio Spirits.
All fizz and crackle without massive sparkle, they produce a tight, competent, if not slightly derivative, display of power pop rock. There's certainly an edge, they can definitely play, the songs have hooks and energy, but for some reason, they fail to fully ignite the early arrivals.
Not bad, by any means, just all a bit standard. (Well the Standard gag was inevitable, thought I'd get it in the bag early doors - apologies).
Next out of the selection box are the odd looking, potentially thrilling but awfully named Love Zombies.
Now, I'm not sure anyone here tonight (even the masses of industry luvvies and liggers) would remember the Hornsey art school post punk new wave Rough Trade din-makers The Monochrome Set: but if this lot are trying to garner punk credibility by naming themselves after the second (and frankly bloody awful) album, then they've failed as it's the flimsiest straw that a greasy hand could grasp at.
So, what have they got in their gaudy selection box to thrill the revellers?
In short, absolutely sod all. A damp, stale, flatulent proto punk, anachronistic squib. Yes there's a bit of an initial tantalising sparkle in the shape of the enthusiastic Pennsylvanian puppy dog of a front woman. But the blue touch paper just continues to burn with a disappointing, low, spluttering and unsatisfying retrogressive flicker.
Her backing band are a collection of table-top indoor fireworks that have been soused in stale lager. I'm not sure if there is even a modicum of lustre in the first place to be lacking, but the overall effect is just so anti-climatic and flaccid.
There's absolutely nothing new, relevant or challenging here. It's like the very worst of the NY new wave scene of the early 80s has been cryogenically suspended and tried to be thawed with one Bryant & May slightly damp match.
But, to be fair, our puppy dog ringmaster keeps up the energy throughout, chasing her tail relentlessly and tries to get banter going with the largely disaffected and unimpressed throng. But, sadly, they're just no good.
Oh, and they even have a theme tune. One word: Quixotic.
Max Raptor *****
Rather like at a home bonfire party after your guests have so kindly brought round a bumper family selection box of about three hundred shitey little fart bombs and unsatisfying glowing pixie's bellends, it's time to bring out the throbbing, turgid and explosive good stuff.
The tinderbox that is The Black Heart is now full to the gunwales with expectant and excited boys and girls as the fuse is ignited.
And what we're treated to is one of those compact, intense and explosive fusillades you get from one of those fuck off firework displays in a box that turn back gardens and rugby clubs into domestic versions of Olympic closing ceremonies.
The set is regrettably very short, but in the words of that weird futuristic Japanese eye maker in Blade Runner, those who burn half as long, burn twice as brightly.
The brilliant new album Mother's Ruin is represented heavily (as you'd expect from an album launch show) with banger after banger assaulting the senses. The singles Breakers and England Breathes being show stealers. Old faves like The King Is Dead and the eternally splendid Patron Saint Of Nothing have lost absolutely none of their spiky and violent allure and get the crowd finally ignoring the health and safety safe distance instructions.
That said, because the crowd make up appears to be very industry-heavy this evening, the fervour and abandon usually accompanying this lot's travails is somewhat missing. There's plenty of agog, agape mouths, oohs and ahhs and woo hoos but not a whole heap of spazzing or moshing.
Nevertheless, Max Raptor continue to enthral, entertain, eviscerate and explode on their inexorable rise to wider exposure. Their pointed, thought-provoking, clever and beguiling selection of punky, rocky, poppy, anthemic bombs are sure to light up bigger and bigger displays in the not too distant future. Cracking stuff.