@ The Social, London
Here’s the Skinny, sometimes bad feels good. We’re watching a captivating set rounded off with ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish’, a track tilting the spotlight in the direction of xenophobic ideologies. So, why is my head carelessly bopping back and forth to the beat? Why isn’t anyone around us cringing? Simple, everyone here understands music is confrontational. Perhaps that’s an over simplification. It takes a bit of finesse to pull this off as seamlessly, and as enjoyably, as we’re witnessing here tonight but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Let’s dive deeper into Skinny Pelembe, what he’s saying and how he’s saying it but, before we do, let’s rewind a few days.
As usual we find our inbox which is, more often than we’d like to admit, neglected and overflowing. It’s bursting at the seams with a multitude of great new Artists and Singles looking for exposure, a break, or just a reminder that they exist. Shuffling through the heap, something tugs us towards a new one, ‘Oh, Silly George’ by a yet unheard of (only by us because apparently there’s much critical acclaim regarding) Skinny Pelembe, by day known as Doya Beardmore.
Doya’s new single, and set, has got us by the ear from the get-go but by the third song’s intro, ‘4 Year Curse’, he has my respect. “Can we get the pleasantries out of the way”, as he begins to introduce the band, “cause I’m not into that. Let’s imagine we’re at the end of the gig thinking, that was mega!”. Spoiler, it would be and it was. A refreshingly unapologetic, let’s cut the shit, style that’s a welcome break from the usual beg-pardon of the daily English standard is still as charmingly disarming as it is self-reflexive. What a breath of fresh air.
It’s quite difficult for us to pin down what’s going on onstage, not because we’re in our cups, this set has a children of Hamelin vibe to it. The cymbals tickle our eardrums with their loosey-goosey, jazzy vibes, handing over to a Roland/Moog synths for further tenderizing. They relentlessly rattle our skeletons within their fleshy cages. Finally, the Maestro compels us with his elliptical forms of language, frantic genre defiant with elements of hip-hop, psych-rock, rap, and spoken word, wrapped in wavy surfy/cowboy twangy guitar (a-la-Tarantino) tunes right in to our frequencies.
The set was a stand-alone winner, the first of the year (sorry Peel Dream Magazine), but why? Well, for starters there was a sort of restrained madness to it, like Cujo wearing a muzzle. Frothy blind rage only tentatively being restrained behind a thin leather strap, in this case a guitar strap. The same restraint, to be fair, was written all over Doya’s face when his music hit the mark sending woops and howls throughout the audience, keeping the well-deserved smirk on his face from peeling away into a full-blown smile.
Final thoughts? A mind and music with the complexity and elegance of fractals. As unimaginable as it was for my mind to fathom its conception, it's still 100% approachable and docks effortlessly and automatically. Beware, as enjoyable and easy to move to as it is to listen to, a darkness lurks just beneath the tunes that is sorrowful when you pull the music from the lyrics, buried just below the surface like the pistachio filling in a cannoli. How then, do such hard and bitter truths that form the narrative of this work get swallowed up along with moral obligations to our fellow human by an audience, in a word? Craftsmanship. Wavy tunes let the subconscious do the heavy lifting. I’ll leave you with Doya’s final words of the night to his audience. The feeling of the first album is all shiny and fun, but it’s the second album that reminds people that they should still give a fuck.