Reviewed on Thursday April 3
With a voice that sounds like it belongs in a church choir and only the barest of backing bands, Bree Tranter – formerly of The Middle East – kicked off proceedings at the Oxford Art Factory. Tranter’s strong voice, and her willingness to push it to the limits, gives her songs a hymnal quality that inspires reverence, but can also leave the audience restless. When her backing band gets a bit more involved towards the end of the half-hour set, it gives her songs some much-needed urgency and weight.
The main act of the night is Oxford’s Glass Animals, rolling to our shores on a wave of hype generated by their handful of singles. They haven’t even released an album and yet the venue is sold out, and once the band opens with the chilled atmospherics of ‘Psylla’ – one of the aforementioned singles – you can understand the hype.
Mixing indie pop with electronica and even touches of R&B, Glass Animals have the crowd swaying along to every song as frontman Dave Bayley’s impressive falsetto holds the experimental wanderings together. The sultry, pulsing ‘Black Mambo’ is a highlight, and probably the best example of the clash of genres that is at the heart of the band’s sound.
Glass Animals share more than a few similarities with Alt-J, and after hearing the quality of the handful of tracks they teased from their upcoming debut album, they may be on the brink of a popularity explosion like their fellow Brits experienced just over a year ago. Regardless of what the future holds, the songs they’ve already released definitely have the ability to hold a crowd in raptures. You only needed to witness them close with ‘Gooey’ and count the number of phones in the air recording the moment to be sure.