Girlpool and Scott Matthews at Rough Trade West
Rough Trade West hosted Girlpool and Scott Matthews this week, as part of their regular in-store gig series. The space demands stripped back shows as they take place on the very intimate store floor. This worked out well for Girlpool, a two-piece band from LA who only sport bass and guitar, and later Scott Matthews with his guitar and harmonica.
Screechy seems to be the word that follows Girlpool around, and while they are not afraid to get loud, their screams are melodious and with purpose. In Jane the shrieks come in suddenly but are not jarring or unpleasant, rather they display great vocal control and emote the frustration Jane feels towards Tommy, and against being silenced in general. Words are not lost here, the lines of the song showing talented lyricists
Paint Me Colours is another fine example of Girlpool’s lyrical ability; they use short, sharp lines in a nursery rhyme style, juxtaposed by their questioning of society. Their music evokes rejection and disillusionment in a way that is not only impassioned but thoughtful.
Girlpool were followed by Scott Matthews, an experienced performer who single-handedly managed to make an acoustic guitar and harmonica sound like a complete band. His soothing drawl was mesmerising, and his songs heartfelt and earnest. He has the incredible ability to make a harmonica wail match the lovelorn lyrics of songs like So Long My Moonlight with its drowsy intro: “The planet you’re on means way more to you than here.” His singing style may lack diction, but with his captivating skill in expressing heartache, it hardly matters.
Matthews’ charming in-between song musings relaxed the audience, keeping the evening light and pleasant in contrast to his heavy lyrics. His latest single, Sunlight, is a crowd favourite, recognisable and fresh; it’s a solid demonstration of the dancing layers of his soft, yet confident, vocals. It was a moment of optimism, and indeed sunlight, among a melodiously melancholic set.
For further information about Scott Matthews and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Sunlight here: