Only a smattering of onlookers stand waiting early doors at Clwb Ifor Bach this evening, so we’re guessing that word of Sterling Press hasn’t yet reached Wales’ capital but we assume this won’t be the case for long. With three punchy single releases to their name and a few UK tours, the Liverpool-based four piece are in the process of gathering a buzz about themselves and their live set is proof positive that said buzz is undeniably deserved.
The lads bound onto the stage in Reebok, Adidas and Fred Perry attire, Burberry scarf draped over singer/bassist Marlon Reynier’s keyboard stand, and after brief preparation they kick into life. Opening with a youthful power-pop salutation to being 21 and still figuring out what’s going on, a track laced with laughter and conversation samples, their britpop-loving stall is laid out straight away. B-side ‘Daisy’ manages to gee up an initially apprehensive venue as more shyly curious punters make their way through the doors and up to the front of the stage.
Several times the group announce they’re playing a new song they recently wrote, but it’s safe to say that every one of the energetic, ska-flecked punky numbers, save their three singles, are new to this crowd, your reviewer included, with subjects from being in love to a lyric sounding unenthusiastic about getting an email from a job in retail, begging instead “why don’t you wake me up when I’m famous?”. Upcoming single ‘What Would You Do?’ is more jagged and gleefully fierce, producing some Damon Albarn style on-the-spot, knees-up running from the curtain-haired singer, yet unlike many of their Britpop indebted genre-mates, there’s no hint of nod and wink irony in their influences, only sheer appreciation of the artists who did it before.
‘Joyride’ has a darker, ominous, tone, the scary downside of the party, but their upbeat banger of a debut single ‘Very Fun Times’ assures festivities are kick-started as the band invite the audience to have a dance if they know it. Celebrations come to a rowdy head with most recent single ‘Plastic Bag’ and the number of people walking about the Welsh club’s lower floor in newly procured Sterling Press t-shirts after the set ends are evidence that this room of Spyres fans have been successfully pulled onboard.
Glasgow’s Spyres are on tour to mark the release of their latest ‘Dear Diary’ EP, a record that clearly seems to have already connected with the fans who have turned out to give it their all, encouraged to do just that with rocking 2020 single and live staple ‘Fake ID’, both singer/guitarists Keira McGuire and Emily Downie giving it their all into their respective mics. From fast-paced punk-pop to a slighter darker emo-pop with an early Paramore edge on recent release ‘See Through You’, the group are well varied in their influences, a fact displayed by Emily Downie’s Jesus and Mary Chain tee and the two covers waiting later in the set.
A couple of as-yet-unreleased songs ‘Wanna Go Home’ and ‘Kids’ bookend the first of the tracks to be aired tonight from ‘Dear Diary’ – ‘Honestly’, a laid back vibing affair, next to the faster pace stampede of ‘Kids’. Not for the first time this evening, the enraptured audience are advised to have a dance when the aloofly dismissive and sweetly vigorous ‘I Don’t Care’ starts up, a dance that turns into a rabid thrash for the next ‘Dear Diary’ track and highlight of the show, ‘Test’. After ‘Lost Without You’ the band bring out the first of their covers, ‘Give Me Back My Man’ by the B-52s, speeding through with both singers shouting along.
‘Dear Diary’s final track, the saccharine, angsy-filled and soaring ‘Hated You First’ bleeds into Spyres’ epic debut single ‘Otherside’, an expansive, echoey and anthemic closer declaring “I don’t wanna be like the other ones, it’s alright but it’s not right for me, take me where I wanna be” with heroically heavy guitars.
The band leave the stage momentarily at the de-facto end of performance but the second highlight of their show is yet to come, when the four-piece return for an encore and treat their devoted congregation to a fierce version of Le Tigre stone cold classic ‘Deceptacon’, a satisfyingly vibrant and affirmatory rendition only realizable by actual, veritable scholars of turn of the century riot grrrl electro.
The Spyres tour is now over but the ‘Dear Diary’ EP is up to listen to on Spotify. A new EP from Sterling Press is due out next year. Have a listen to Spyres’ ‘Dear Diary’ EP and Sterling Press’s ‘Plastic Bag’ single below: