Devlin has all the best tunes

The Joy Formidable shows persistence pays off

I’m writing this on a train after a weekend in the Norfolk countryside. That means, unlike usual, I’m not surrounded by CDs and I have no internet access.

So this month’s column is based purely on memory. It doesn’t always serve me well, but here are five bands who I’m recalling with ease, so they must have made an impact.


Rising out of London’s grime scene, this rapper has been thrust into the limelight since releasing his debut album, Bud, Sweat & Beers, last year. What makes him stand out from the crowd and increases his appeal are his lyrics, which are just as likely to be about paranoid conspiracy theories as they are about drunken nights on the town with friends. Apparently, one of his biggest influences is Bruce Springsteen. Go figure.


These guys look – and sound – like they’re from California, but they actually hail from London. One of them has a huge afro, and I once saw him on the bus heading, as it turned out, to the same gig as me. Anyway, this five-piece play a wonderfully lackadaisical style of noisy slacker pop, the kind that could (and should) be used to soundtrack American indie films about getting wasted in the summer after high school is over. A pure and wondrous, if somewhat (deliberately) sloppy, sense of carpe diem.

Orphans and Vandals

Back in 2009, Orphans and Vandals released their debut album, I Am Alive And You Are Dead. The brainchild of Al Joshua, they were actually banned from BBC due to the rather graphic homoerotic lyrics that appear in some of that record’s songs. But beyond that shock factor, these are intelligent, poignant, poetic tales of real life and love in London, full of the hopes and dreams and wonder and folly of youth. Falling somewhere between David Bowie and The Libertines, they can be slightly pretentious, but are charming enough to get away with it.

The Joy Formidable

A number of years ago, I saw a great band called Sidecar Kisses in a tiny venue on Oxford Street called The Metro. Neither exist anymore, but I was really happy to discover that two members of The Joy Formidable, a trio who’ve been getting a lot of attention recently, were in that band. A blend of sounds and styles from grungy, catchy pop to synth-led moments of quieter contemplation, their songs are inventive and ambitious and well worth a listen. Just goes to show that persistence in this game does pay off.


They’re not, technically, a new band, but with their third album, Metronomy have reinvented them sufficiently (and sufficiently well) to warrant a mention here. That album is called The English Riviera, and is frontman Joe Mount’s attempt to create a sound for the Devon countryside dubbed that by its tourist board. The irony, is that, although that tag is ridiculous, in its Fleetwood Mac-esque sensibilities and funky sensuality, the album succeeds incredibly well. Lovely stuff.

Mischa Pearlman is a music journalist living in London, who writes for a bunch of music magazines such as The Fly, Kerrang!, Clash, Record Collector and Alternative Press. He does this purely for the love and less frequently for the money, and is always hoping to fall in love with his next favourite band so he can tell you about it.

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