Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nastly Little Lonely - 'Son of the Flies' EP

Nasty Little Lonely were previously known as 'Rock In Your Pocket'. Or, they're a new band with exactly the same members as 'Rock In Your Pocket' had when it was laid to rest - take your pick. It would barely merit mentioning - seeing as, for example, the new band/name has gotten itself twice as many 'likes' you-know-where as the previous had in no time; so they appear to have shrugged off the old skin with some aplomb. But what strikes me is what hasn't changed - 'Little'. 'In your pocket'. Still with the diminutive. This isn't an attempt to reframe the band as a behemoth - it's simply refocusing on the emotive. It's a curious phrase, too, 'Nasty Little Lonely'. After the first two you expect the third word to be some kind of pejorative noun; 'nasty little beggar' or similar. But the rug's pulled out with 'lonely' - it's just another adjective, and a sympathetic adjective at that. What's a 'lonely' look like? And is the nasty little thing just looking for a friend..?

So it confounds expectations, a little. At once cutesy and macabre, NLL's new name (like the old one) has something of the feel of a Nightmare Before Christmas, or any number of customised My Little Ponies, or a lesser Daemon in Warhammer - creatures, on the whole, with big enough eyes to let you get close, but sharp enough teeth to leave a mark if you do.

All of this does rather suit the music. "I took you to my heart / but you ate it!", Charlie Beddoes exclaims in the title track of their debut EP, 'Son of the Flies'. The delivery is between a whisper and a squeal, and she sounds, here, delighted in at least equal measure as she is disgusted by the prospect of having her vital organs devoured.

Beddoes' vocals sound throughout the EP like mischievously imparted confidences - they are the juicy bait that lures you in. The instruments (including her own bass) are then the three-barbed steel hook you're made to wriggle on.

'Lizardbrain' is the standout track, its central riff like a Marshall amp falling down a flight of stairs in a Warner Bros cartoon; and is packed full of those tempting-but-deadly, poison apple images, embedded in internal rhymes - "A rose with a thorn is, just one of those warnings" - the band utterly revel in the squalor of it, evoking memories of Daisy Chainsaw or a roughed-up Garbage - while the remaining tracks, 'Turn the Screw' and 'Jesus Complex', go off and get stoned together to a Nirvana b-side.

Without wanting to overdo the Katie Jane Garside pointers, there is something of that tone to Beddoes' delivery and the flavour of the imagery. With QueenAdreena apparently on indefinite hiatus, their fans could do a lot worse than to look to Nasty Little Lonely for more anti-lullabies. Beyond that, there's a whole world of Emily-the-Stranges and her would-be-boyfriends out there just waiting to stumble on a band like this. 'We're all in the gutter', as the band have said in interviews past, 'but some of us quite like it here'.

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