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Indie-pop debuts at New Slang: Aquilo and Toothless Review

By Sunniva Knutsen Feb 5, 2017
Ben Fletcher, left, and Tom Higham, right, performs their debut album Silhouettes at New Slang. Photo: Oda Ottesen

New Slang introduced Aquilo and Toothless to the indie pop scene at New Slang on Thursday, where they debuted their first albums.

Starting off the show was synth-duo Aquilo and their album Silhouettes, serving up soft electronic sounds that mixed magically with lead singer Tom Higham’s emotional vocals.

The Silverdale duo, consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Tom, 25, and Ben Fletcher, 21, on piano, has gained recognition since they released their first singles “Calling me” and “You there” in 2013.

They even gained a spot at Glastonbury Festival in 2014 after being mentioned in The Guardian and The BBC, despite saying they never intended to play their music live.

The crowd was entranced as they opened with “Human”, an atmospheric song with slow electronic rhythms and soft piano notes that bounced off the walls inside The Hippodrome.

Higham’s vocals are unashamedly emotional throughout, and sprinkled with high falsettos, particularly during Blindside. Think Justin Timberlake’s high notes combined with Ed Sheeran’s deep intonation.

During their set, the band jokingly claimed they lacked some preparation when they had to start over in the beginning of ”Sorry”. “We are very nervous,” Fletcher said with a cheeky smile.

The Island Records-signed band ended their somewhat short set of six songs with Silhouettes, appropriately the name of their debut album, which would released the following day.

Aquilo was unapologetic about their emotional pop-electronic set.

But despite hitting some snags here and there such as having to start a song over and hitting some wrong notes, it was a strong performance, and the crowd seemed unable to drag their eyes away from the colourfully lit stage.

Best songs: Silhouettes, Sorry and Human

Next up was the pop-debut Toothless, kicking the show off with Charon, a soft opening number with smooth strumming and a voice comparable to the likes of Passenger and Iron&Wine’s Sam Beam.

Vocalist Ed Nash’s smooth, whispery voice accompanied the record The Pace of the Passing’s whimsical and borderline psychedelic sound flawlessly, resulting in a well-crafted indie-rock feel.

The songs hinted at several genres including folk, electronica and indie-rock, rooting in Nash’s background as bassist for London-based Bombay Bicycle Club, which he was part of from 2008 until 2014.

The band has released four albums, with So Long, See You Tomorrow topping UK charts in 2014.

During the set the songs had a tendency to overlap and sound quite similar. All were based in upbeat drums mixed with a light guitar and storming synthesised electronics.

The Sirens, a song which guest features The Staves on the record version, was a surprising and welcome change of sound.

The song started off with a slow, steady drum beat with Nash’s voice going lower than it had previously, before it went up towards the chorus and a female voice joined in.

The song has more subtle hints of the whimsical and electronic side of Toothless’s sound.

The artists performed their album’s single, Sisyphus, which was one of the more upbeat songs on the album.

It communicated hope and motivation in contrast to many of the other songs, which carried more of a melancholy and serious character.

Best songs: The Sirens, Terra and Sisyphus

Both Silhouettes and The Pace of the Passing were released on January 27 and are available for sale and on Spotify.

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