Deadbeat Darling @ Bull and Gate (London) 17 February

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Four Americans in leather jackets are sat around a table in the Bull and Gate, sipping beer and reminiscing about how they met. They are Deadbeat Darling, and if you haven’t heard of them yet, you soon will. The band signed with UK indie label Spear Havoc last March. Grammy-award winning producer Ken Nelson then produced their album, The Angel’s Share, which is due out on 2 April.

Lead singer Joseph King says: “Not everyone agreed on the name but those who didn’t aren’t in the band anymore.” But he assures me that these days they are a democracy and that the song containing that lyric is no longer played. Then along came drummer Evan Howard, a classically trained jazz musician. King jokes that the drummer: “…crossed to the dark side of rock and roll.”

Deadbeat Darling came together as a marriage of musical interests. King continues: “We didn’t grow up playing hopscotch together. We moved in the same musical circles in New York.” This gives them a tangible sense of professional camaraderie, and in keeping with this, King name-drops fellow New York bands – White Taxi, Caveman – as well as bigger names like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “TV on the Radio,” pipes up bass player Ian Everall. “They do sexy stuff.”

Their music is largely based on the soft rock that had its heyday in the early noughties. But this won’t holding them back. They have a sizable following both in the UK and across the pond. King contemplates this. “We have a younger fan base here and I wouldn’t be surprised if it eclipsed the one we have in America.”

That evening, they take to the stage and deliver a set of tunes that sit in the middle of the raw-to-polished spectrum. Their sound is distinctly American and reminiscent of Train’s hit ‘Drops of Jupiter’. It has emotionally rousing melodies, masculine vocals and tender, meaningful lyrics. Plus, King has a delightfully husky voice that compliments Bhansali’s yearning, reverb-heavy guitar riffs.

They have a retro feel, with their more upbeat tracks bringing Razorlight and The Police to mind, but their added quirks keep it fresh. Howard’s jazz background is evident as he adds flourishes and fills to standard rhythms. The subtle complexity of the bass lines adds countermelodies to round off each song. Their sound varies between all-out rock and edgy ballads as King alternates between acoustic and electric guitars.

They have a clear idea about what they want to achieve. Opening for The Strokes, collaborating with The Streets and breaking onto the British festival circuit are all mentioned. They have a widely appealing sound that is unique in the current musical climate. One of their choruses is still floating around my head three days later. 2012 could be the year soft rock becomes cool again.

deadbeatdarling.com

Thea de Gallier 

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