Sunday 5 November 2023

Live Review: Art School Girlfriend, Clwb Ifor Bach Cardiff 4 November 2023

A rainy day on the eve of Bonfire night didn't stop the Cardiff crowd showing up in force to support Art School Girlfriend's debut Cardiff show at Clwb Ifor Bach. Polly Mackey’s second album as ASG 'Soft Landing' was released earlier this year to much acclaim and it's clear to see why fans were eager to catch a glimpse of it live.

The glaring, smoke filled streets outside from the aftermath of impatient Saturday night firework displays more than made up for the lack of smoke on satge, almost unintentionally matching the atmosphere inside as an explosive display within itself was formed. 

From the unassuming synth pad intro track that quickly dissipated, to the scattered percussion and chaotic finale of The Weeks which quickly took hold, the evening lit up form the off-set. 

In a live setting the instrumentation takes its own free flowing pathway as melting melodies unfolded over plinky synth notes and rumbling basslines. As for Mackey's vocals, they remained as crystalline as ever as they shape shifted between their soft palatable state and driving commandeering force. 

What promised to be an evening of ethereal brilliance and atmospheric electronica delivered on all accounts with a live show to match the record in pristine detail. There was even a Prince cover as the band showed worthy justice to I Would Die 4 U turning it in to an ambient, soft driven masterpiece. 

From Real Life's haunting soundscapes and dazzling synth crescendo to the franticly paced Heaven Hanging Low, which sounds like an amalgamation between Holy Other and East India Youth, the evening rounded up with the brilliantly slinky 2-stepping A Place To Lie. A beautiful sentiment for an evening well spent amongst the emotionally charged, solemn electronic compositions that come shrouded in mystery and nervous anxiousness.

Art School Girlfriend have truly mastered music to lose yourself amongst, only opened up even further live.

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