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:: Modernaire :: Cats In Paris ::
14 March 2008 / The Garden Hotel / Manchester
By Megan Vaughan

Bizarrely, considering this is in fact a launch party for the new split 7” on Brainlove Records, featuring both Modernaire and Friends Of The Bride, the latter band appear nowhere on the bill and Modernaire are actually the support act for Cats In Paris, who say they named themselves after experiencing a collective dream about King Kong being replaced by a kitten, and taking up residence on the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps more worryingly, I’m the only person there aside from our headliners’ drummer, who shows increasing concern until about 9.45pm, when Manchester’s young and quirky population arrives in droves.

Co-ordinated as ever, with project mastermind Oscar Wildstyle in matching purple jacket and shoes (remember that scene in Batman where the Joker’s gang storm an art gallery listening to Prince?) and gorgeous vocalists in Victorian goth frills, Modernaire are quite brilliant. With only a laptop and a silver thing with knobs on, there’s a danger that things will deteriorate into a retro videogame nightmare, but the songs are instantly likeable and with two glistening voices on top, it’s like Polly Harvey has taken over a Girls Aloud remix. The most quintessentially Modernaire track finishes the set, and anyone not already familiar with ‘Bloodshed In The Woodshed’ is visually overawed by its buzzing dark energy, and appropriately expressionist dance routine. In a genre saturated with over-hyped bedroom producers and badly sampled sci-fi effects, Modernaire are electro for the thinking woman. They even sing in French. Rave has gone posh, and I love it.

Having had Cats In Paris recommended to me as a must-see band, I had high hopes for the outfit that had been variously described as “twee”, “noisy” and “twee-noise”. With two keyboardists side-by-side up front, and a violin looking on promising from the floor, their introduction is a disorientating collection of disparate calls of “bom!” and the odd bang on a key or two. Surprisingly, it works well, and winds up into an infectiously dirty keyboard riff that compels most people to do something approaching dancing. As the set moves on however, Cat In Paris become increasingly unreliable. We are treated to more killer hooks, but they are broken up by migraine thrash and then schoolboy yelping. That promising violin takes the racing noise-fests into an even more unpleasant octave, and each song is introduced by a supposedly endearing “Here is a song what I wrote” squeak. In the city that gave us Gideon Conn, this was lightweight showmanship. And yet, it was hard to completely dislike Cats In Paris. Their tunes have an originality that will make many run into the arms of Bryan Adams, but in the brief moments when drums, bass, key and more keys come together in a futuristic headfuck stomp, they are mesmerising. But then that bloody yelping starts up again…

Cats In Paris

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