Joy Zipper at the ICA, Thursday 28 April
Couples are the new rock'n' roll don't ya know. Jack and Meg, Mimi and Alan from Low, Win and Regine from Arcade Fire, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina, yes rock history is scattered with the bloodied trails of nearest and dearest music makers. Representing the matrimonial melodics this week are Tabitha Tindale and Vinny Cafiso, better known to the world as Joy Zipper (Tabitha's mother's maiden name not a pair of bondage baggies filthy fact fans).
Ahead of the release of their lovely third album The Heartlight Set and a full Uk tour this June (they take in Kokos on the 17th) the Zipper are in town fresh from LA to bring us their gently fuzzy psychadelic, somnambulant deeply dark and twisted nursery rhymes. Dark and twisted? But they sound so wholesome (Tabitha's all American apple pie cute as kittens, Vinny's got those 70's Dazed And Confused good looks). Absolutely. Christmas Song may contain the utterly romantic I love you more than a thousand Christmases but it's somewhat offset by the deranged stalker that sings I feel you now 'cause I'm deep in madness. Londonist can't help but wonder what life is like in the Zipper home. Lots of headless bunnies prancing about between the daisies? But enough of these musings, as they say: "Over the jump and on with the show."
Let's get the critical bits out of the way first. Tonight's show is by no means a perfect one. As we've said fresh in from LA and it looks as if the jet lag has taking it's toll. The band look tired behind the smiles and they're a little woozy, a little too restrained. There's just not enough passion and with our leading couple as the centre of attention we really want a little more spark for our bucks. You sense that on a better night there could be some real fireworks. Perhaps not in the Jack and Meg call and response jokey wifey thing but in some nice'n'wholesomely sleazy interplay. The set's also far too short, clocking in at just over an hour and songs seem to give up and fall to a halt, uncertain as to whether there's anything more to do.
It's not that we feel cheated, more short changed. Because it still means an hour and a bit of that gorgeous interplay between Tabitha and Vinny's voices. They swap leads and harmonise with each other in much the same hypnotic way that Low do. Tabitha's all coy smiles for the fan photographers in the front row, occasionally tapping at her keyboard whilst Vinny, much the more nervous of the two, keeps the audience cheering to give himself a boost. At least he's still able to effortlessly draw those sleepy lush ringing tones from his SG.
Mixing and matching from all three albums it's a fair enough set for what it is (i.e. too short). There's the aforementioned stalker ballad Christmas Song, the addictivly odd-ball (horrible pun) Drugs (turning me onto...), gentle alt.country strum through Thoughts A Waste Of Time, the Happy Days hand claps through Go Tell The World (which we all manage to keep pace with having only travelled down from Bradleys) and fluffy but scary Valley Song. Well scary once we've been told it was written as a suicide pact.
So a slightly sloppy set but since Joy Zipper are one of the most hazily beautiful of the west coast pop bands, they're not without charm. As to whether this one off is a one off or a sign that the performance will always follow the music we'll have to wait until June.
Londonist Music is currently listening to (strangely enough), Joy Zipper's The Heartlight Set.