Live Review

Stand Up Against Heart Crime, Sala Razzmatazz, Barcelona

What a difference a year makes. 52 little weeks.

It’s January 2012. It’s cold and the wind is blowing hard. Christmas and New Year frivolities are fast fading to grey, we’re all back at work, and ahead is the long, hard slog till Easter. Tonight is a last hurrah, a heroic stand against the impending drudgery of modern life, and the moment Stand Up Against Heart Crime step out of the shadows and onto centre stage. It’s been a long time coming and, as is customary at this time of year, we need to take stock, make plans, and ask “How did we end up here?”

It’s January 2011. It’s cold and the wind is blowing hard. I’m invited to a “New Music Night”. I expect the usual procession of wannabees and never-will-bees in some over-priced dive bar. Instead I’m transfixed and totally captivated. How four native Catalans who appear somewhat gloomy, don’t move a lot, and don’t say anything manage to make such emotionally resonant music is beyond me, but I’m glad they do. They look every inch proper performers, and mesmerise everyone present for 40 all-too-short minutes with their unique take on mildly Cure-esque, 80’s synth pop. I decide that I like this, and word must be spread.

What a difference a year makes. 52 little weeks. Having emerged so fully formed, no-one is worried about their performance, but supporting both Crocodiles and Porcelain Raft, as well as recording at London’s Sarm Studios, has lent them an aura of belonging. Bigger bands have shrivelled on this cavernous stage, faced down by the drunken 3am hoards confused as to why they are no longer listening to Katy Perry remixes, but these boys sail through with a cocky swagger. The minimalist set up perfectly suits their melancholic tales, a backlit Josep Xorto radiating a dark and brooding menace as he darts left and right and teeters on the edge of the stage.

“I’m not playing games with you” intones Xorto in ‘Colours I Dislike’, and it’s clear they’re here to win hearts and minds. There’s a determined intensity to ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ bittersweet tale of a chance encounter amid a fog of hedonism, while ‘Talented Loser’ fizzes with energy. Synths alternatively drone and shimmer throughout, punctured by the occasional spiky blast of guitar. The combination of backlights and clever, projected visuals lend everything an eerie edge - particularly the self-deprecating ‘I Cant Stand Myself Sober’ - but can’t hide their steely determination. ‘Children’ floats beautifully by before the jaunty, infectious pop of ‘A Hundred Lovers’ brings a sad return to crimes against disco.

This is a thoroughly modern band, the children of Web 2.0 with one eye on the future, one eye on the prize. Finding beauty in moments of despair may have been pretty standard from Dylan onwards, but done with such style and grace, it’s hard to not admire. Music is too often full of tales of broken dreams and unfulfilled promise, and you couldn’t possibly wish for tougher times in which to break through. I can only hope theirs is a brighter future, judged on merit and talent and their undoubted ability to move you. Que sera, sera, as they say, but music, this might be the year you restore my faith.

Tags: Features

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