NME live review, 14 August 1999

Venini/Brassy/Marine Research
London Camden Falcon

Let's get one thing clear from the start. Marine Research, ex-Heavenly and Tallulah Gosh, are not twee, not even slightly. With their deft skill for classic songwriting touches, their ease with timeless girl-group choruses, they are perfect, and they are pop.

But they aren't 'perfect-pop', that most fragile, elusive genre wizened old crones clutch close to their hearts. Marine Research are too brash, too robust, too alive to be anything so tedious. The gorgeous wistfulness of 'Hopefulness To Hopelessness' might smack of a zillion Gold FM moments, but Marine Research's gusty delivery is refreshingly free of kid-gloves preciousness.

Those cheekbones. The jet-black eyebrows. That seething snarl. There's no mistaking the Spencer genes in Brassy's singer/guitarist Muffin. But Brassy won't be in the Blues Explosion's shadow for long so compulsive is their bionic punk-funk. Brassy are Elastica sharing a sloppy tongue-kiss with the Beasties, faultless new-wave pop sensibilities hotwired by dusted, blunted hip-hop. When recent single 'Good Times' slips into some white-hot D&B breakdowns, when drummer Jonny dishes out some between-song turntablism, you realise Brassy couldn't have existed any time before NOW. And each song hits the spot so perfectly, so naturally you'd think all pop music was meant for dancing.

But the kids are here for Venini. And Venini ain't music for dancing to, they are music to wear second-hand polyester shirts to. Famously, they are Russell from Pulp's newest venture. And they misfire on almost every count. Vampish singer Debbie Lime sneers, "Dress me up in Gucci" (stop sniggering), before lurching stiffly into some clumsily-choreographed 'dirty dancing'. Like their stultified, grisly indie-rock, like their tragically inept lyrics, it's no doubt meant to be sophisticated, sexy. In reality, it's shabby, seedy and not a little sad. Maybe it'll sell in Camden. But Brassy and Marine Research have their sights trained on the world.

Stevie Chick