It’s been a long road for My Tiger My Timing, the indefinable indie-synth-pop outfit from New Cross, from their first single ‘This Is Not the Fire’ back in 2009 to this celebration of their debut album ‘Celeste’ (which technically isn’t out until July).
Anna and James, the siblings that front the band’s boy-girl-boy vocal harmonies, think so too. “It’s taken a lot of our time because we’re totally DIY,” Anna says. The band self-manage, run their own label Snakes and Ladders on which their last two singles and first EP were released, and work day jobs in between time in the studio. “We’d work on some of the record, then run out of money. Make a bit more money, make a bit more record,” Anna explains. “You can’t really stick to schedules when you’re working like that.”
First up, Crawley three-piece Ornament Tournaments tear through four or five songs of no-nonsense straight-up guitar and drums, with singer Joseph Kent rocking the grunge-revivalist vibe in denim cut-offs and stripey socks. “The world is your oyster,” he yowls, “so swallow it down.”
The airless Lexington’s only ventilation is bursts of air expelled from bass bins as the drummers deliver a positively sadistic assault on their skins. It looks like it’s going to be a night for drummers – rarely do you see anyone at London gigs enjoying themselves as much as the drummer from second support Artifacts, who grins and gurns his way through the set, driving the train that carries his band mates’ noisy guitars embellished with synths struck like percussion.
And so to My Tiger My Timing, who bounce on stage with obvious relish and launch into album taster ‘Wasteland’, warm reverberating synths laced with a Kate Bush-esque vocal trill. Their songs incorporate a capital city of influences – a South London blend of sharp, off-kilter Jamaican dancehall rhythms, the bright, shimmering guitar of Mali, Kenya and the Congo, and new wave synths. They blend luxuriant Scandipop with up-front rhythms and the controlled weirdness of Talking Heads.
‘Written in Red’ follows, one of two unabashed pop songs to arrive last year alongside ‘Endless Summer’. “For us, pop is not a guilty pleasure,” Anna says. Filled out from the Spartan but beautiful demo heard last year, ‘On My Record Player’ is a highlight – a lush, exuberant ode to music’s power to console and confuse, Anna looks more confident than ever stepping out from behind her Korg to sing, shout, punch and prance about the stage.
The three-part vocal harmonies fit, Gary’s drumming is tight and Jamie’s basslines deliver through half a dozen new album tracks broken up by stalwarts like ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘The Distance’, and it seems finally that My Tiger My Timing control their instruments and not the other way round. Each song delivers infectious melodies and footwork rhythms, to which the inexplicably inert crowd here seem all but immune.
Closing to appreciative applause, ‘This is Not the Fire’ brings them full circle, still sounding as fresh as it did three years ago.
[Originally published on Clashmusic.com, May 2012]