Animal Kingdom at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Animal Kingdom’s second album has been out in America for a year but they are only now celebrating its British release. The Looking Away is ironically titled, as it accurately describes Britain’s collective failing to recognise this band. Tonight’s show is a terrific chance to catch a group that have left such intimate venues behind long ago.
First up are fellow guitar-heavy, indie pop rockers As Elephants Are, a young-looking band whose nervous temperament is awkwardly palpable. The four-piece remain rooted to their respective spots throughout the set, while their frontman does his level best to avoid eye contact with anyone. Thankfully, they do have some lively tunes in them to redress the situation, with their debut single War Cry and newbie Youth Blood being the standouts.
Without a single word uttered, Animal Kingdom launch into their first song. This makes the fact that they opt for White Sparks as their opener all the more confusing since it doesn’t contain the kind of attention-grabbing pizzazz needed to give a show real momentum.
Thankfully, it doesn’t derail the proceedings as the following track Tin Man – which sounds far better live – hints at this band’s expansive sound, before the third track Getting Away with It rams this fact home.
It can be easy to simply heap all the credit and focus onto a band’s frontman, and Animal Kingdom’s Richard Sauberlich wouldn’t be undeserving of any praise he receives, but it’s impossible to watch this band live and not pay lip service to the input of Hamish Crombie on bass and Geoff Lea on drums. Their tight and fluid interplay combined with an ever-changing dynamic (they also both operate keyboards) is the sonic backbone to Animal Kingdom’s extensive live sound.
Two further cuts from their new album come in the form of The Wave and The Art of Tuning Out, both good examples of Animal Kingdom’s knack for creating intelligently crafted songs that are patient without being plodding. emotive yet never saccharine. Latest single Strange Attractor closes the set and it’s easy to hear why it’s gone down a storm in America: laced with chiming guitars and a massive vocal hook, it’s as euphoric as anything Bloc Party have ever produced.
A few recent reviews have suggested that Animal Kingdom are unlucky not to be more popular, on the evidence of tonight, it’s hard to disagree.
Photos: Adam Imiolo
For further information and future events visit Animal Kingdom’s website here.
Watch the video for Strange Attractor here: