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The Carpels, of most youthful demeanor and bushy-tailed enthusiasm, seem rather the antithesis of their chosen muse of post New Order/Joy Division and Smiths. These analogies being, for the most part, down to the mic gazing post-miserablist baritone co-vocals and frantic, keening minimalist guitar melodies. They lent more colour to this derivative palette later on with adventurous extemporised electronica and dub-step hyper-drives that allowed more space from the clutter of four guitars scrapping for both stage and musical individuality. They’re gaining some fruity recognition about town and beyond so get to see them and decide yourselves.

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It was not so long ago some of the condescending London-centric armchair Cassandras and faux purveyors of what’s essential cool were rash enough to dismiss Poppy & The Jezebels as regional teenage kitten kitsch. The beached and cadaverous floundering credibility of saccharine n’ spicey ‘Girl-Bands’ was long past its smell by date anyway. The Poppies, with adolescent invulnerability shrugged all this aside: They were the New. Focusing instead on honing their inimitable infectious groove – added to which was their well-endowed twinned usp – savvy brains. It might all have ended in tears – but it didn’t and it hasn’t.

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Shrewd familial management (ie manager-dads with stage-door shotguns) ensured that the quick-buck lechers didn’t try to exploit their undoubted good looks, whilst clearly oblivious to their nascent talents, and shoe-horn them in to some hellish, rapid-career death TV talent-show format. Instead, they’ve played the long game (with a few GCSEs in between) of allowing their song-writing to blossom in to a bouquet of utterly unpretentious, lo-fi nuanced quality Pop. And, they’re still only twenty-one for goodness sake.

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A long time a’coming to the Hare, Birmingham’s PopBels were showcasing their latest self-released single on Gumball Machine, ‘Sign In, Dream On, Drop Out’ – May 28th, whose title strongly suggests they’ve been studying their parents’ Timothy Leary tie-dye/t-shirt manifestos. But, that’s Kings Heath/Moseley for you.

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A softy Celtic air intros into tweedy keyboard refrains from Miss Dom Vine who also seemed to be monitoring all things on genetically modified bass. The latter alone a formidably punchy compliment to Miss Poppy Twist’s kick-drum tantrums and backing vox.

Effervescently effortless with lashings of delicious geek-free organ licks – they’re quintessentially a thoroughbred beat group with vocals led by the thoroughly modern Molly Kingsley and her photographer distracting dimpled bouncy stage presence. Guitarist, Amber Bradley (Miss) mean-whilst looked on with an air of bemused detachment – the philosophical one, perhaps.

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There’s heady heroine disco-diva aspirations, innocent New Romantic bravado and perhaps with ‘If You’re Not There’ an equivocal tendency towards formulaic ersatz EuroBeat. Although they’d cause mayhem in the likes of Spain and Italy. That said, The Mick Skinner inspired up-tempo reggae rumble ‘Momma’s Boy’ provided an engaging diversion and an astute grasp of style. Barely thirty minutes in and they’re done, closing with new single release ‘Sign In’. But, the beat goes on and Pop will treat itself. Poptastic.

Setlist: I’m All Mine, Frank, Turn Up The Hay, Carpet Clowns, If You’re Not There, Momma’s Boy, Sign In.

Thanks to Alex & Carlo

Gig Review by John Kennedy
Gig Photography by Ian Dunn

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