Gig reviews: Dog is Dead, Electric Circus, Edinburgh

“IT’S really hot up here and it doesn’t help that they’re simulating some kind of barbecue behind us,” pointed out Dog is Dead singer Robert Milton, with reference to Electric Circus’ permanently smouldering log fire DVD on the wall behind the band.

The Nottingham quintet are, not to use too obvious a segue, the kind of band it’s easy to warm to. It’s as if they take the template for preppy indie-pop that was set out by Vampire Weekend a few years back and try to bolt on as many sounds and genres as they can.

If at times that seemed over-ambitious, it was at least preferable to a band who are happy just to pull off someone else’s trick for themselves. The first couple of songs, River Jordan and the twee Beta Band-echoing bounce of Talk Through the Night, betrayed hints of Vampire Weekend’s Afrobeat guitars and Wild Beasts’ jangling, dream-like guitar pop, but Dog is Dead’s palette consisted of more than the obvious. Young saw Milton’s rich, high-pitched vocal rise and fall through notes rapidly, lending the song an almost hymnal quality, while in Burial Ground, the measured guitar sound of early Fleetwood Mac merged with swooning keys and the hint of a West Coast rock ‘n’ roll jam towards the end.

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Nice touches did abound, from mournful saxophone sounds to the way the music stopped so Milton could bark out Two Devils’ defining “if we don’t stop now we’ll be dead by summer” line. The Atlantic signees may well be at the buzz-building stage of touring the Highlands with fellow rising star Kyla La Grange right now, but in the thrilling encore of Glockenspiel Song it was possible to hear the excitement of big things on the horizon.

Rating: ****

DAVID POLLOCK