added: 27 Jun 2012
// gig date: 14 Jun 2012
reviewer: Karen Delaney
It is said that fashion moves in 20 year cycles, and upon that logic the current trend for 90s revival was easy to predict. Some may recoil at the blatant retrospectiveness of it all, but yours truly had been waiting patiently for the noughties to be over, anxious to hear what gems the next generation of rockers would produce.
New talents Nife are one such band. Citing Krautrock and 60s Psychedelia as their main influences, their sound is nevertheless infused with a hefty dose of grunge sensibility. Their upcoming album, Chemicals (Out August 13) is striking for its catchy guitar hooks, distorted soundscapes, and moody, undulating vocals - rightfully raising comparisons to PJ Harvey's earlier work and even Mazzy Star.
When Nife take to the stage at a full-to-the-rafters Borderline it is clear to see why they have caught the attention of producer Tim Oliver (Sinead O'Connor, Happy Mondays, New Order). Exuding a sense of sublimely understated cool, the trio deliver a sumptious, jagged wall of sound. Frontwoman Nicky's vocals sound sexier and more powerful in the flesh, and she demonstrates the guitar-wielding heroism of Joan Jett and Justine Frietschman's lovechild, oooozing charisma. Bassist Scott injects the set with irresistible 60s R&B groove - reminiscent of early English groups such as Foghat and Cream - evident in a surprising cover of 'Waterfalls' by TLC, resplendent with funky guitar riffs and pumping bass hooks. Impressively, drummer Howie appears to be playing one-handed due to a broken arm. He never misses a beat.
Yet it is their own material that makes the biggest impact. The rolling, hypnotic melody of 'Dregs' - the highlight song of the set, combined with Nicky's star quality makes for moments of spine tingling pleasure. And while it is clear that she is the magnetic force of the band, the rhythm section holds its own in the talent stakes, and Nife have a refreshing onstage unity. They are clearly enjoying themselves despite the apparent melancholy of their songs. The juxtaposition of beautifully sung melodies and chunky riffs occasionally conjures up Skunk Anansie's finer moments.
Nife sail through their set with unaffected panache and wide smiles, even when their upcoming single 'Chemicals' is the kind of track that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. 'Silence' has the entire room tapping their feet and swinging their hips to a strong classic rock backline. Their live set clearly meshes many influences, and their songwriting ability brims with promise.
Sadly, tonight's audience did not get to experience their full potential, as a short set of merely five songs left the crowd hungry for more - even after pleading for an encore as a guitar was abandoned distorting on stage. Nevertheless their faultless performance was a taster of things to come: An impressive band that definitely deserves to be watched again.
Album 'Chemicals' released August 6th,
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