The run of impressive in-store mini-gigs and signings at independent record store Sound Knowledge in Marlborough’s Hughenden Yard continued this week with an incendiary show from Exeter rock n roll punks The Computers.
Promoting just released 2nd album “Love Triangles, Hate Squares” they squeezed onto the small stage set up in next-door café-bar Azuza, no mean feat when you also have a large keyboard, drum kit and amplifiers to wedge on with the musicians, guitars and PA gear. But immediately, front man Alex resolved the issue by jumping down from the stage, complete with guitar and mic stand and proceeded to spend most of the rest of the show at various points around the room, mainly from the middle of the audience but also on chairs, tables and the bar-top. This spectacle, coupled with him grabbing random folks for little ballroom dances, some choice witty banter and the contagious nature of the songs ensured the room was soon bobbing along with him, clapping and stamping, and probably all wishing, like I was, that we too had funky slicked back quiffs and sharp matching suits with skinny ties. The effort put in from the band was incredible. They were super-tight, a fantastically well-oiled machine who seemed not bothered they were playing in a café in a small provincial market town. The professionalism was a pleasure to see and spilled over into the signing session where faces were pulled during photos and albums were signed with jokes and flourishes.
Musically the band has refined their sound for this record. Vocals are less shouted, and the 50’s rock ’n’ roll influences are writ large and not just in the kitsch quiffs and skinny matching suit image. The songs are a blend of classic rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and punk, rammed with catchy melodies, piano solos and chant-along choruses. But balancing that retro fine line, on occasion they slip off, sounding like a 50’s pastiche with one-dimensional ideas. Luckily, more often than not the blend of old and new works well, sounding fresh and sunny, not yet in the same league as The Hives, but heading that way for certain. It did generate the amusing thought you could play parts of this record to your granny, lulling her into a beautifully false sense of security with the sounds of yesteryear, but scaring the support stockings off her when things kick into a different, more up-to-date ferocious gear.
Live however, the band and the songs really come to life, both bursting with energy. The music has a rawer and scruffier, more chaotic feel to it, as if the band are pushing at the rock n roll constraints, itching to let go and dial it up into a full on garage-punk assault. So buy the record, it is a fine sounding album, especially for the hoped for sunny months ahead, but more importantly go see The Computers live, chances are they will be one of the best bands you will ever see.