Play: Jackanory >>>
It's one of those amateurish, college newspaper expressions that instantly causes eyeballs to roll upwards: 'They don't take themselves too seriously'. And while this normally translates in the mind of the reader as 'they don't take themselves too seriously because their music is semi-listenable pap and they're going nowhere fast', it doesn't apply in all cases.
Take Tango in the Attic (TitA] for example. From the paint-splattered picture portrait (see above) to the daytime TV influenced name (a blend of 'Tango and Cash' and 'Cash in the Attic', if the rumour is to be believed), this Fife five-piece employ a giddy, ramshackle attitude that even extends to their musical hardware.
"We like to mix up the instrumentation a lot," says guitarist Jordan Craig. "Guitars, saxophones, trumpets, electric organs, synths, a weird and wonderful collection of percussion, including a hybrid instrument named 'SHELBY' which comprises a traffic cone, a road bollard we knocked over when we crashed our van, and a cowbell which we stuck to the top of it for good measure! We use all this but try to stick to writing straightforward pop songs. We try not to make our music too alienating or self-involved, and we try to keep it upbeat."
Such prankish behaviour usually equates to immature sounds, but the difference here is that this band's music is worth listening to. Together for a little over a year, TitA have managed to forge a tight, bright indie-pop sound that seems a world away from Scotland's current reputation for introspective, skull-rattling post-rock. Our featured track, 'Jackanory', is an instant rush of coiled pop energy, with singer Daniel Craig (no, not that one) veering from off-beat cynicism to impassioned chanting, over a backing track that sounds like Vampire Weekend without the string section.
And Vampire Weekend aren't the only Manhattan-dwelling music-makers to play a part in TitA's kaleidoscopic pop vision. "We seem to like a lot of bands from New York like The Strokes, The Walkmen, The Velvet Underground etc," says Jordan. "But then loads of other random stuff like Bombay Bicycle Club, Paul Simon, Radiohead and The Pogues."
But TitA hail from Glenrothes in Fife, a post-war new town of roundabouts and giant daffodil sculptures that is thousands of miles from the Big Apple, both in distance and vitality. Or is there a thriving music scene across the Forth Bridge that's still undersold in the national media?
"Fife has a strong music background and a good reputation for live music," Jordan argues. "Because of the state of things just now, everyone's a bit strapped for cash and local crowd attendances have dropped a tad, but there's always people up for it - folk around here have that kind of mentality. You have to appreciate the effort people are still making to support local music. Dunfermline and Glenrothes are constantly producing bands of a very high standard which is always exciting and encouraging."
TitA are still enmeshed in the scene from which they've sprung: they practice in the basement of a vintage clothes shop in Kirkcaldy, they drive their die-hard fans to gigs in an old mini-bus called the 'Tango Tank', and they try to keep the price of tickets as low as possible. But do they think this grassroots approach will pay dividends in the long run?
"It's not that cool to say it, but we work really hard at this, despite being a pretty light-hearted bunch," Jordan replies. "We know when to get the business heads on, but we know when to have a laugh as well I guess. We never make compromises when writing our songs or preparing for gigs. The 'luck' factor always plays a big part in a band's success, but we're very confident in our music and ourselves. Hopefully this gets us into a career where we can make album after album 'til we've got massive grey beards."
They may not take themselves too seriously, but we predict a hirsute future for Tango in the Attic.
Intrigued? Watch TitA live at the following dates:
12 Jul @ T Break Stage, T in the Park (1pm)
21 Jul @ King Tuts, Glasgow
22 Jul @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh
1 Aug @ The Greenside, Glenrothes
8 Aug @ QMU, Glasgow
21 Aug @ Captains Rest, Glasgow