ADULT. / Battant – Liars Club @ The Social, Thursday February 9th.

(An edited version of this review originally appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post.)

Now almost three years old, The Liars Club has built a reputation for hosting some of the most cutting-edge acts around. Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and the Scissor Sisters have all played there, on their way to major success.

Tonight was the turn of two bands with a similar take on twisted, punked-up electro-pop: Battant from London, and ADULT. from Detroit.

Following a successful tour supporting Ladytron, Battant are quickly building up an insiders’ buzz. Their greatest asset is vocalist Chloe: a waif-like ice maiden, with a steely stage presence. Comparisons with Siouxsie Sioux are inevitable, and deserved.

Greeted with whoops of recognition, the band’s stand-out track was Jump Up: a jerky, new-wavey number, evoking memories of the wonderfully batty Lene Lovich and Nina Hagen.

Headliners ADULT. – former darlings of the short-lived electroclash scene – took the same formula, and pushed it to new extremes.

With her vocals shrouded in heavy echo, it was impossible to discern what Nicola Kuperus was singing about. Instead, one searched her bizarre, witch-like performance for clues. Eerie, unsettling, slightly mocking, performing almost to herself, she wailed and chanted above the raging squall of the backing track and bass guitar, scarcely moving her lips throughout.

Unfortunately, ADULT.’s limited box of tricks was soon worn out. The audience divided. While the glowstick-waving Nathan Barley types at the front shimmied and swayed, those towards the back stood motionless and puzzled.

Sure, it’s good to be confrontational. But without any substance to back it up, it’s all too easy to wind up looking rather superficial in the process.

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